The only way to avoid driving on Tulsa’s bumpy streets

What’s the best way to travel in Tulsa?

By helicopter.

That’s because so many major streets are torn up.

Instead of concentrating on a handful of projects and finishing them quickly, city leaders have a habit of starting projects all over the city and taking their own sweet time in getting them done.

They obviously don’t give a flip about inconvenience to Tulsa motorists or the damage they do to small businesses when the street in front of them is torn up for weeks and months.

In the past, officials said they “can’t move any faster” on these projects.


Other cities seem to have no problem in concentrating on repairs and minimizing inconvenience.

I have to drive through 61st Street on Sheridan Road every day. I thought they fixed that road a year ago but I guess not.

Tulsa is spending almost $6 million and they don’t expect to be finished until June.


If I were paying $6 million for new waterlines, I’d expect a much better timeline.

The speed limit in that intersection is 25 mph but apparently the Tulsa police aren’t too concerned about enforcement. Drivers routinely race through there at 40-45 mph and they ignore the “no-left-turn” signs.

Sometimes I go south on Sheridan Road from 71st Street. Not any more.

Sheridan from 81st Street south to 91st Street is all torn up and down to one lane. That’s not one lane in either direction – it’s just one lane. You can go north from 91st Street but you can’t go south from 81st

I have to go downtown at least three times a week. Most of the time, I take Sheridan Road to the Broken Arrow Expressway. Sometimes, especially coming home during rush hour, I like to scoot down Riverside Drive to 61st Street and then over to Sheridan.

But I can’t do that now.

Because of the big park project, Riverside Drive is closed from 21st Street south to 35th Street.

There’s no point in going down Peoria Avenue as an alternative because there’s a 25 mph speed limit on Brookside.

Riverside Drive will be messed up until sometime this “fall.”

I have fallen into the trap of taking 21st Street from Peoria Avenue to Lewis Avenue. It’s a $9.4 million mess that won’t be cleared up until June.

With Sheridan and Riverside Drive essentially blocked, motorists are forced to use alternate north-south streets. Knowing this, the city has decided to tear up Harvard Avenue at 31st Street and 41st Street. The 41st Street and Harvard Avenue project won’t be finished until August. The 31st Street and Harvard Avenue leg is supposed to be finished now but I am too cautious to drive by there to see if it is

I don’t normally venture down to South Delaware Avenue but the stretch from 104th Street South and 121st Street is torn up. It won’t be fixed until this summer.

I love it when the city says these projects will be done “this summer” or “this fall.” That means they plan to miss their deadlines by months rather than by weeks or days.

South Tulsa isn’t the only victim.

In January and February, there have been projects at 46th Street and North Lewis Avenue (completion date – August); 8300 E. 15th St. (late April); North 129th E. Avenue from Pine Street to Admiral Place (completion date – June); Apache Street from Yale Avenue to Sheridan Road (completion date – March); Garnett Road from 36th Street North to Pine Street (completion date – August); and more.

You can’t complain to your city councilor. They have made themselves powerless in terms of getting things done. They are very good at passing new sales tax and spending hundreds of millions of dollars with little control.

The new mayor is more interested in visiting schools and forming new committees than organizing Public Works so that street projects are done in a timely and efficient manner. He probably cares about the Downtown street projects, though, and maybe those in Midtown.

After shredding Sheridan Road and Harvard Avenue, the city plans to rip apart Yale Avenue from 81st Street to 91st Street, probably sometime next year. That’s is such a big project, you can probably count on it taking months more than is scheduled and it is guaranteed to mess up traffic all over that part of Tulsa.

Our streets are in terrible shape. We spend way, way too much for what we get. If we have a street plan, it’s not working.

The streets do need repair and that takes money. The southbound lanes of Memorial Drive from 81st to 91st streets drive like the surface of the Moon. The east bound lanes on 51st Street from Yale Avenue halfway to Harvard Avenue ride like a dirt road.

There are many more examples.

Unlike President Trump, city officials don’t really care about the impact of street closures on small business. If you think it doesn’t have an impact, talk to any business owner at the corner of Memorial Drive and 61st Street.

That intersection was murder for months. At least the police made some efforts to target speeders and illegal turns in that nightmarish situation.

I hate traffic in cities like Denver, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles and some others. Tulsa has a reasonable level of traffic and that has great appeal for people to relocate here.

But when every other street is torn up for months and months and businesses go broke waiting for completion of street work, someone needs to come up with a better system.

Most of us can’t afford a helicopter…