When the Gallup-Tulsa CitiVoice Index survey asked thousands of Tulsans in 2018 what was most needed to improve the city, the No. 1 answer — ahead of better schools, better jobs and better public safety — was better roads, highways and bridges.
Some 59% of those polled said their top concern was transportation issues, the No. 1 concern in eight of nine City Council districts.
That’s a pretty clear statement of Tulsans’ top municipal priorities, and the Improve Our Tulsa tax extension program that goes before voters Nov. 5 gets it.
The tax extension won’t raise tax rates. It is designed to allow the city to address its most pressing needs through consistent property and sales taxes.
Some $427 million of the $639 million plan centers on improving city streets, including more than $142 million for arterial street maintenance and rehabilitation, $153 million for nonarterial street maintenance and rehabilitation and $64 million for street widening and capacity improvements.
The plan calls for rehabilitation and reconstruction of more than 500 lane miles of arterial and nonarterial streets and routine and preventative maintenance for an additional 750 lane miles.
There’s money to widen 81st Street between Tacoma and Maybelle avenues around the Tulsa Hills shopping center, the 81st Street and Elwood Avenue intersection, 91st Street between Memorial Drive and Mingo Road, the 101st Street and Sheridan Road intersection, 81st Street between Harvard and Yale avenues and Gilcrease Museum Drive between Pine Street and Edison Avenue.
Three city bridges — 57th West Avenue over Berryhill Creek, 31st Street over Mingo Creek and Mingo Road over Mingo Creek — are slated for major rehabilitation. Ten more are planned for more minor rehabs; 27 others are slated for routine and preventative work.
The secret to better city roads is consistent investment in preventative maintenance, a lesson Tulsa has learned the hard way. The 2008 Fix Our Streets program included more road funding than the city had planned in the previous 20 years. The 2013 Improve Our Tulsa program brought even more funding to the game.
The Improve Our Tulsa extension again invests in the No. 1 priority for Tulsa’s citizens.