Tulsa businesses take a hit as construction persists on 101st Street into the school year

Posted at 8:40 PM, Aug 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-23 12:50:59-04

TULSA - Businesses are taking a hit while construction persists on their street.

4 p.m. at the corner of 101st and Florence looks different this school year.

It now means squeezing down one lane, cone by cone to pick up the little ones.

But, travel about half a mile down 101st, and Julie Simpson can tell you what the real roadblock is.

“Now I’m getting a lot of phone calls. How do I get there? What’s the best route?" said Merritt's Bakery Manager Julie Simpson.

This year, the sprinkles and sweet frosting aren't enough to keep business booming.

“I would have lots more kids in here after school, I would have more moms, [there was] just an easier traffic flow in and out of here.”

Now, the flow is just her and two employees.

A person or two battling the bumper to bumper to come inside on occasion.

“Personally, it has affected our business by about twenty percent.”

She said the traffic is especially frustrating because the same thing happened just a couple years ago, but from the other direction.

“I want to be there for our customers.”

Tulsa City Councilor Phil Lakin took to Facebook Tuesday on the issue saying he's had city engineers work on the timing of the lights at 101st and Riverside during rush hour.

He's asking for feedback on other changes "positive or negative."

“Really not so happy about it, really not.”

Merritt's Employee Tammy Williams said her commute time to work has quadrupled.

“This is the only road I know how to get here," she said.

But it's the rows of cookies and cupcakes that remind her what all of the reflectors and signs are really blocking.

“But one way or the other we’ll persevere through it and we’ll get it taken care of," Simpson said.

The city of Tulsa said having one westbound lane open at 101st and Louisville was going to happen from the beginning on this project when school started.

It plans to open another lane in March before shutting the entire intersection down all over again next summer to correct issues workers found underground.

Councilor Lakin's full Facebook post:

"Traffic lights on Riverside at 101st and the Creek -- I asked the City's traffic engineers to look at the timing on these lights during the school and work rush hours, especially in light of 101st being one-way until March.  Our engineers, along with Kimley-Horn (consultants), worked last night and this morning making adjustments to alleviate some of the traffic issues.  They will be monitoring the area this afternoon and evening to see how the adjustments are working.  According to them, traffic this morning was flowing much better.

Knowing that no area will ever have perfect traffic signal timing, please let me know -- positive or negative -- if these changes appear to be working.  Again, don't expect perfection, which is impossible with traffic and signals.

Also, I've asked them to look at adding a dedicated turn lane from northbound Riverside onto the eastbound Creek and at allowing two lanes of traffic to turn from the eastbound Creek (drivers are facing west, looking at the K&G) to southbound Riverside.   I'll let you know how that goes..."

CITY OF TULSA PRESS RELEASE: East 101st Street, South Louisville Avenue to South Florence Avenue, Scheduled to Open to Westbound Traffic on Aug. 18.

"East 101st Street between South Louisville Avenue and South Florence Avenue, which has been closed since May 30 for street rehabilitation, is scheduled to open to one lane of westbound traffic on Aug. 18, in time for the first day of classes at the nearby Jenks Middle School. *See attached map – eastbound traffic between Riverside Drive and Yale Avenue will not be able to use 101st Street. Suggested detours are 91st Street, 121st Street or the Creek Turnpike. 

The work on this section of East 101st Street is part of a larger street rehabilitation project on East 101st Street between South Yale Avenue and South Florence Avenue. The project includes rebuilding the street with an asphalt surface, and adding a left-turn lane at Louisville Avenue, a right-turn lane into Jenks Middle School just east of Florence Avenue, and sidewalks on the north side of 101st Street.

Excluding the section between Louisville and Florence avenues, 101st Street in the project area will remain open to two-way traffic until approximately the end of September, when the one-way westbound traffic lane on 101st Street will extend from Richmond to Florence avenues. Then from January 2018 until completion of the project in early March 2018, traffic will be limited to one westbound lane on 101st Street between Urbana and Florence avenues.

The project also included work on sanitary sewers and storm sewers under 101st Street. When the contractor began excavation between Louisville and Florence avenues, some additional issues became apparent with these structures. The sanitary sewer line is sagging due to inadequate support from its trench 30 feet below the surface. The existing storm sewer had been built on top of an older storm sewer – the top of the old storm sewer was the base of the newer storm sewer. Cracks have formed in this stormwater system, and water is leaking into the surrounding soil, which negatively impacts drainage and could eventually undermine the road.

The repairs needed for the sanitary sewer and storm sewer are outside the scope of the original project, and there was not enough time before school starts to complete the repairs. A separate project will need to be done at a later date, and it will be scheduled for after the school year ends in May 2018. East 101st Street between Louisville and Florence avenues will need to be closed again next summer for this project.

It was decided that this solution would be best, considering the traffic flow needed for the 2017-2018 school year."

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