NewsProblem Solvers


Construction at 91st and Memorial causes confusion, traffic delays

Biden Infrastructure
Posted at 1:00 PM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-10 16:33:18-05

TULSA, Okla. — Confusion over a Tulsa street project caused headaches for weeks, in a busy part of town, during a busy time of the year.

An improvement project at 91st and Memorial is partially paid for with federal money, which has to be administered by the state— that means it's a joint project between the city and the state.

2 News Oklahoma Problem Solvers found some confusion over the coordinating of responsibilities that left frustrated drivers sitting in traffic delays before and during the holidays.

Backups at times stretched for blocks, as they headed east on 91st Street, between Sheridan and Memorial.

"I'm thinking, why did I go this way?" one woman asks. Sharon lives close by and drives through 91st and Memorial nearly every day, especially since she wants to avoid the traffic headaches of the work going on along 81st Street.

"It just takes you forever to get through here," Sharon says.

Sharon and other drivers say they think the backups and frustrations, and the barricading of the right-hand turn lane onto Memorial are unnecessary. They see piles of dirt just off the street but rarely see any workers.

"I didn't see anything, I just saw that you couldn't get into that lane and kept wondering why."

Drivers say closing that turn lane seemed to cause most of the backups for much of December. Those wanting to go south on Memorial, would slowly drive into the middle of the intersection, and make a hard right turn onto Memorial.

Several turns like that mean very few cars get through a green light.

"I've been backed up probably halfway down, closer to Sheridan at times," Sharon says.

So after hearing those complaints, we got in touch with the city. After a representative looked into the situation, he told 2 News it's actually the state that's responsible for some of this area, including traffic control during the project.

But when 2 News talked to the state, they said the city is responsible. The next business day after 2 News asked the city about the right-hand turn lane being closed, it was reopened, and traffic moved more smoothly.

"It's better, much better to have it open," Sharon told us. "It was good, I almost avoided it, but I was already coming this way, and I realized I can get through today."

Here's more information from the city and the state regarding this particular project, and others that are worked jointly, across the city.

The project on Memorial from 81st to the Creek Turnpike is a joint project with ODOT and the City of Tulsa The scenario for these STP projects are generally broken up as follows: The City of Tulsa provides the design effort for the project and then ODOT handles the administration of the advertising, bidding and construction management of the project. The City of Tulsa is still involved in terms of our regular site inspection elements along with the full-time ODOT Inspector.

Another recent example of this project delivery format is the intersection of 61st and Yale which was recently completed. We have several of this style of project delivery in the works for other locations around town as well.

Traffic control at the intersection you described at the right turn lane is due to concrete sawing and sealing of the concrete repairs that still need to happen. The material that is used for the sealing of the joints is temperature-sensitive – the same as traffic stripes, etc.

Our contractor has been pretty good about taking down traffic control devices when we hit a snag (like weather) to minimize traffic impacts. Efforts of this sort have been made throughout this project. So traffic control in that right turn lane may go back up when the weather gives us a break to do the concrete sealing.

We had previously been reporting that we would be complete in March, but it appears that we are well ahead of that schedule.

This is from the state:

Each project differs in the specifics, and the contracts detail those differences. In general, when ODOT administers one of these contracts, we handle the day-to-day communication with the contractor (this can include traffic control needs) and inspections. The purpose and design of a project would be up to the city, though sometimes ODOT will help with design as well. Projects are let and awarded through ODOT.

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