Making Sure Traffic Moves as Smoothly as Possible

With Tulsa street repair in high gear, we have visions of orange traffic barrels dancing through our heads — with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore.
Tulsa voters overwhelmingly OK’d road propositions and today we see the progress that $451 million provides to fix and rehab Tulsa streets.
The project includes 340 lane miles of streets — residential and arterial — along with 17 bridges.
According to Mayor Kathy Taylor, Tulsans will see substantial changes within the next three years.
Tulsa spent the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s rejecting street projects, and some short-sighted citizens tried taking the City to court over the 71st Street widening project and the Creek Turnpike. The City has paid the price ever since for that collective foot dragging. As the population steadily moved south, 81st, 91st and 101st streets have been overwhelmed with traffic volume. These two-lane arterials, designed for 11,900 vehicles a day, handle an average 18,700 vehicles daily — a whopping 57 percent over design capacity.
The same is true of Tulsa’s north-south arterials. Look at Memorial Drive from 61st Street to 111th Street, for example. That four-mile stretch has a design capacity of 26,600 vehicles. Yet, actual volumes are nearly one-and-a-half times that amount, according to figures from Public Works Engineering Services. Amazingly, volumes from 91st Street to 101st Street have jumped 55 percent since 2006 along that stretch as traffic soared from 27,200 in 2006 to 42,300 last year.
One solution might be to build a deck above Memorial Drive, doubling the capacity. The top deck could be made into an express lane while the ground level would allow access to and from Memorial Drive. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could afford to do a similar project above Sheridan Road from 21st Street to 101st Street or 91st Street from Harvard Avenue to Mingo Road? California highways have been double-decked for years to handle the flow.
While we like the futuristic idea, we realize that would be expensive. Also, we realize there is not that much traffic to justify the cost.
The point is streets in south Tulsa need widening, but those streets will not see any projects until 2020. Yale Avenue, recently widened from 91st Street to the Creek Turnpike, still chokes down to two lanes south to 101st Street. That intersection at Yale and 101st needs attention. But, no improvement is planned until at least 2013, when the next street package is prepared.
Street maintenance is a big job in a city with thousands of miles of arterial and residential streets.
So, whether it is street rehab or widening, orange traffic barrels are here to stay.
It is like apple pie and world peace; Everyone wants traffic to flow as smoothly as possible at all times, especially at rush hour.
Tulsa must cough up to the cash to not only maintain streets, but find the means to widen these two-lane arterials so we can make sure traffic can still move as smoothly as possible.

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