The man overseeing construction of A Gathering Place for Tulsa said Tuesday he plans to work with city officials to ensure bus service to the park is available.
“There’s a lot of work that has to be done in order to plan all of this and to get it executed, but it’s something the foundation is committed to,” said Jeff Stava of the George Kaiser Family Foundation.
Construction of Phase I of the park along Riverside Drive recently began and is expected to be complete in late 2017.
The $350 million park is being constructed by the foundation with financial assistance from local businesses and philanthropic organizations.
Stava stressed that talks with Tulsa Transit about bus service to the park have yet to begin.
“We are three years from opening, so we have lots of time to work on these things,” he said.
The city’s planned improvements to Riverside Drive should make operating a bus along the road possible, Stava said. Those improvements include widening and straightening the lanes and removing a dip in the road near the Pedestrian Bridge.
“I think there would be a chance to put a loop that comes from downtown down Denver Avenue to Riverside, then south on Riverside to 31st Street to service River Parks and A Gathering Place,” Stava said.
Tulsa Transit General Manager Bill Cartwright said the bus service wants to do everything it can to ensure the success of the park.
“This thing is coming together, and you never know how they’ll work things out, but I’m sure if there’s interest in doing something, then they’ll do that,” Cartwright said.
The city currently has four bus routes — 105, 118, 221, 222 — that come within a half mile of the park.
Stava said he hopes the city’s planned Bus Rapid Transit system along Peoria Avenue will have a stop that would serve the park. The Peoria BRT route is scheduled to run every 15 minutes and would have fewer stops than the current Route 105.
James Wagner with the Indian Nations Council of Governments said a BRT stop is planned for 33rd Place and Peoria Avenue but that could be changed.
“We haven’t nailed this thing down as far as where the stations are,” Wagner said.
“I think there’s still room to accommodate the Gathering Place,” which will be constructed from 24th to 31st streets on the east side of Riverside Drive and from 24th Street to 33rd Place along the west side.
Under the city’s current plans, capital funding for the BRT route is not scheduled to be available until 2021, Wagner said.
Phase 1 of A Gathering Place calls for the construction of 510 parking spaces — a number greater than typical parks as measured by acreage, Stava said.