Gilcrease Expressway extension discussion delayed
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Thursday, August 02, 2012
A discussion between the Mayor’s Office and the City Council about extending the Gilcrease Expressway was postponed Thursday for scheduling reasons, not because the project is being vetted for inclusion in a possible Vision 2025 renewal package, the mayor’s chief of staff said Thursday.
Last week, city councilors were told that Mayor Dewey Bartlett would discuss the issue with them at a committee meeting on Thursday of this week.
But Chief of Staff Jarred Brejcha said Thursday that next week “accommodates the mayor’s schedule better.”
Brejcha noted that extension of the Gilcrease Expressway is one of the shared goals that the Mayor’s Office and the council approved earlier this year.
“It is something that the city contributes to annually, and we get federal funding,” he said. “We remain committed to it regardless of the way it is funded, and I think the councilors just wanted a discussion about that.”
The issue first appeared on the councilors’ committee agenda two weeks ago, when transportation officials were present to give an update on the project.
During that meeting, Councilor Blake Ewing asked officials who made the decision to construct the highway, what their decision was based on and whether those justifications still exist.
Since then, the council and the Mayor’s Office have been working to get the item back on the agenda to discuss Ewing’s concerns.
In the meantime, Ewing stated last week that local communities have been asked to compile a list of projects that could be included in a possible Vision 2025 renewal package. He said he expected that the extension of the Gilcrease Expressway, like all of the city’s capital improvement projects, would be vetted as part of that process.
But Brejcha insisted Thursday that delaying discussion of the expressway had nothing to do with vetting projects for a possible Vision 2025 renewal package.
“There is a modern-day justification (for the project), and we welcome that conversation,” he said.
The Gilcrease Expressway extension would run roughly north-south on the west side of the city, connecting the existing highway on the city’s north side to Interstate 44.
The Tulsa World first reported in May that a tax package was in the works to make improvements to city-owned facilities in Tulsa International Airport’s industrial complex and to provide money for a “deal-closing” or business incentives fund.
Discussions reportedly began in the wake of the bankruptcy filing by American Airlines last fall as officials looked for ways to preserve local jobs.
City, county and regional leaders have been meeting privately for months to come up with a proposal to present to taxpayers.