Tulsa's Midland Valley pedestrian-bicycle trail gets high marks
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Sunday, November 18, 2012
11/18/12 at 4:23 AM
Nothing is middling about the new Midland Valley pedestrian trail.
Stretching 1.49 miles from the River Parks Pedestrian Bridge east and north to Maple Park at East 16th Street, the improved pathway is garnering rave reviews from cyclists and walkers alike.
Especially on fall days like Friday, when the sun splashed through the trees on either side of the trail to create a colorful canopy.
"I can't believe how nice it is after the improvements," said Carol Farrell. "I think it is a well-kept secret, unfortunately, in Tulsa."
Farrell, 56, was out walking her dog, Cody, with her son Casey Farrell, 26. For years, the Farrells used the trail when visiting relatives in Tulsa from their home in St. Louis.
When it came time to retire, Carol Farrell said, the family moved to Jenks - in part to take advantage of Tulsa's trail system.
"We have really kind of watched it (Midland Valley Trail) over a few decades, and this is just magnificent what they have done," said Carol Farrell.
Julie Schuyler said she uses the trail two or three times a day, often accompanied by her pugs, Mojo, Dexter and Frank. She called the improvements fantastic.
"I would say the best thing about it is it's much more safe for cyclists and walkers because it is a wider trail," Schuyler said. "It used to be pretty dangerous with cyclists and the walkers because there just wasn't enough room."
The approximately $1 million project included widening the trail and paving it with concrete instead of asphalt. Lights, benches, trash receptacles and a drinking fountain were added, as were trees and signs.
A new pedestrian crossing signal was installed where the trail crosses 21st Street just east of Boston Avenue.
Funding for the project came from the city's 2006 sales-tax package, a grant from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and a donation from the George Kaiser Family Foundation.
"Making improvements like the trail are super important to us," said Jeff Stava with the Kaiser Foundation. "We really believe that connecting the core part of the city and the neighborhoods down to the (Arkansas) river is really important."
The improved trail will also complement the foundation's planned park along Riverside Drive called the Gathering Place for Tulsa.
"There will be some take-off points from the upper trail that will move into the center part of the park," Stava said.
James Wagner, transportation projects coordinator for the Indian Nations Council of Governments, helped the city design the trail improvements. He said the goal was to mirror the look of the River Parks trail so that there is continuity between the two trail systems.
While River Parks trails stretch north and south along Riverside Drive, the Midland Valley connects at the Pedestrian Bridge and stretches to the east through the Maple Ridge neighborhood and then north connecting to downtown, he said.
"The big highlight for me is that it is improving a trail that is going to provide better access to the (Gathering Place)," Wagner said. "If you are downtown or you are on River Parks, you can have access to that whole new park via the new trail."
The Midland Valley pedestrian trail is nearly 30 years old. For frequent users of the trail like Carol Farrell, it's only getting better with age.
"It is absolutely gorgeous the way they curved it around up against some beautiful properties that still have horses and goats," Farrell said. "So you get the feel of really being out in the woods knowing you are right here amongst humanity."
Original Print Headline: New Midland Valley trail 'just magnificent'
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313
Carol Farrell and her son Casey Farrell of Tulsa take a walk along the Midland Valley Trail. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World
The approximately $1 million project included widening the trail and paving it with concrete instead of asphalt. Lights, benches, trash receptacles and a drinking fountain were added, as were trees and signs. A new pedestrian crossing signal also was installed. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World