Now that we know the estimate to build low-water dams in Tulsa County (nearly a third of a Billion dollars), it seems that amount of money could be put to much better use. The streets in Tulsa, Bixby and Broken Arrow are much too narrow to accommodate the traffic flow they experience. Every afternoon between 4:30 and 6:30, there is near gridlock south of 61st Street. On some streets, traffic is backed up an entire mile between five o’clock and 6:30 p.m.
Now is the time to widen all of Tulsa’s, Bixby’s and Broken Arrow’s major thoroughfares to six lanes. Many streets on the south side of town are now merely two lane affairs. This is ridiculous! Drivers are wasting gas money and putting more pollution in the air while waiting at stoplights.
Six-lane streets are a safety factor as well. On March 25th of this year, a tornadic storm blew into Sand Springs during rush hour. Luckily, Tulsa was once again spared a from catastrophe. Could you imagine being stuck at stoplight behind 25 cars, knowing that a tornado was bearing down on you while you could see power flashes or hear reports of its approach on the radio?
Do you remember the pictures of the roads around Oklahoma City in May of 2013 when people were trying to leave town ahead of a string of tornadoes? The roads were packed and would have become littered with debris had tornadoes raked over them. The Tulsa metro area could look the same way in a similar situation due to the avoidable gridlock that exists today due to narrow streets.
Two-lane streets do not just pose safety issues during storm season. Citizens must commute home from work in the snow as well. During recent snowstorms, cars have been stacked up over 40 deep to make it through stoplights. All the while, snow was falling and the streets were becoming more hazardous for travel. Had the roads been six lanes wide, commuters could have more quickly gotten home to safety.
Today our cities and county should shift bond and tax money away from low-water dams, dog parks, people parks, new museums for housing exhibits that could be housed in existing ones and new gymnasiums. These funds should instead be used for making wider, safer streets that will allow easier passage for civilian and emergency vehicles when the need arises. Afterwards, we could address the aforementioned ideas.