Real deal IDL coming to Tulsa

For generations the Arkansas River has divided Tulsa, limiting growth and risking safety by increasing emergency service response times. The original Tulsa region expressway master plan called for construction of a bridge over the Arkansas River and completion of a “Gilcrease Expressway” over 50 years ago.

What is asserted as Tulsa’s IDL (Inter-Dispersal Loop) is a joke. It doesn’t disperse. It is so small that go-fast flies-off and turns-over above posted speeds. Much of that will change as a larger loop is to be completed in Tulsa in less than three years officials declared Friday. 

John Smaligo INCOG Chair speaking Friday with Gov. Mary Fallin, Albert “Kell” Kelly, Jr. OTA, and County Commissioner Karen Keith shown (Left to right) Photo by David Arnett, Tulsa Today (Note to organizers: Never position subjects in shadows with bright light behind.)

A chilly bright brisk early spring day welcomed Albert “Kell” Kelly Jr., Board Chair, Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and featured Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, Tulsa Mayor G. T. Bynum, County Comm. Karen Keith (Dist.2) and John Smaligo (Dist.1) Board Chair of INCOG with Gary Ridley, Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation as they announced a partnership to complete the Gilcrease Expressway at Tulsa County’s Chandler Park.

Tulsa Today Archive Photo of Gilcrease inching process

From the 60s through the 80s to Friday, West Tulsa advocates have buttonholed officials, held public meetings, protested, pleaded, and frequently “acted-up” with attitude to focus attention on the need for the completion of the Gilcrease Expressway.

There was once a group called the West-of-Main Association led by energetic, diplomatic but irrepressibly assertive optimist Ms. Frenchie Loving who this writer adored. Now dancing with joy in heaven, I suspect, as her end-of-life’s work is to be completed in three years.

Officials Friday noted how limited federal, state and local funding has been utilized over years for environmental studies, roadway design, right-of-way acquisition and limited construction activity. All that effort inched the project along at such a slow pace it would not have been completed for another 35 years. Finished portions largely include Interstate 44 and Oklahoma 11, but efforts stalled at crossing the Arkansas River.

Governor Fallin said the Gilcrease Expressway has been a priority for her since she was first elected. “One of the first things I told Secretary Ridley was, ‘Get this thing done,’” she said.

“Recognizing the challenge and at the behest of local officials, the Oklahoma Legislature in 2010 authorized the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to complete a feasibility study for some or all of the Gilcrease in an effort to expedite construction of the project,” materials provided declared.

Secretary Ridley told the daily paper he “estimates the private portion of the funding to be about $100 million — or about a third of the completion project.

“From the public sector, we’re putting somewhere around $190 million, Ridley said. The private sector puts in whatever the balance is … how most public-private sector (projects) are done. Then the tolls or a portion of the tolls go to pay that off — similar to what you would have on a toll facility; no one would be able to tell the difference.”  Click here to reach the daily newspaper report.

Gov. Fallin speaking Friday at Chandler Park.

Officials asserted, “In this era of limited public resources no one entity is able to bear the cost of major projects such as the Gilcrease. Through an innovative financing plan and a spirit of cooperation, state and local partners are announcing a plan for financing and funding the construction of the Gilcrease Expressway as a four-lane roadway from I-44 on the south to US-412 and Edison Road on the north.

“Completing this leg of the expressway is vital to providing access and growth, relieving capacity and traffic congestion problems on downtown Tulsa’s Inter-Dispersal [not] Loop, moving freight and improving public safety.”