Office of the Mayor
A Gathering Place for Tulsa will create a public gathering space
for all Tulsans and become a cultural destination for the region.
But with any transformational project comes growing and
construction pains. Please read a letter from City Engineer, Paul
Zachary as he addresses some of the questions we have received
regarding the Riverside Drive closure for the construction of The
Gathering Place and how safety was at the forefront of the decision
for the road closure.
Letter to the Citizens of Tulsa
Re: Riverside Drive Closure
From Paul Zachary, City Engineer
July 13, 2015
City staff, consultants and Gathering Place officials worked for
over two years on the planning, layout and coordination of The
Gathering Place and Riverside Drive improvements. Safety was always
at the forefront of our discussion. The decision to keep Riverside
Drive closed between 21st and 41st for the two-year duration of the
park construction was not considered lightly. We understand the
closure causes an inconvenience for citizens who use Riverside
regularly and we would have avoided the closure had it been
possible. However, due to the multiple projects happening
simultaneously, there is no way to do so without jeopardizing
the safety of workers, traveling public and the quality of the
Imagine this: 32,000 cars trying to make their way through a
construction zone where two separate, 300-foot land bridges are
being constructed over an adjusted alignment of Riverside Drive;
building up the adjacent land of Riverside Drive 40 to 50 feet
above the current street level; moving 450,000 cubic yards of dirt
out of and around the Arkansas River for bank extensions into the
River, above and below the Zink Dam, fill adjacent to Riverside
Drive, and across Riverside to the former Blair land site; adding
multiple, new large storm sewer outfalls to the Arkansas River;
elevating Riverside Drive 8 feet at 3200 block; construction of two
new bridges across Crow Creek; construction of 3,000 feet of
54-inch sanitary sewer along the west site of Riverside Drive; and
rebuilding a new pedestrian bridge.
It would be physically impossible for motorists, pedestrians and
contractors to safely move traffic through a construction zone of
This process is not going to be easy or painless and will be an
adjustment for all of us, but our intent is to make the best of
this temporary street closing and use alternate commuter
routes. Our engineers will be monitoring and adjusting traffic
lights on commuter streets, as needed. We are seeking feedback from
those using alternate routes to let us know of specific problem
areas and potential ways for improvements. As we dealt with
closures in the past, we have found that after five to six weeks
traffic flows began to divert more easily to alternative
routes. We are hopeful this will happen with Riverside Drive
The entire team of consultants, architects, engineers,
construction managers, contractors, and representatives from A
Gathering Place for Tulsa and the City of Tulsa take this closure
First and foremost, we have the responsibility of ensuring that
construction is held to certain specifications, guidelines and
standards, and that the safety and well-being of the citizens and
contractors is held above all else.
Secondly, we are minimizing the damage to new improvements, be
it public infrastructure or a park component. In the
inception of The Gathering Place, it became apparent that in order
to construct, many improvements to the public infrastructure were
needed (i.e. roads, stormwater, water, and sewer facilities) and
waiting until after construction of The Gathering Place would cause
damage to park improvements. Likewise, there are park improvement
components that would destroy new City infrastructure if built
first. To eliminate damage to private and public investments, it
was decided (and voter-approved) to fund the needed public
improvements in the Improve Our Tulsa funding package that are
adjacent to The Gathering Place. The improvements are being built
in a coordinated effort. The risks of leaving Riverside open
outweigh the inconvenience. The impacts from the temporary closing
will ultimately be replaced by the benefits and positive impacts of
The Gathering Place and the adjacent public infrastructure.
Putting the Brakes on Distracted Driving
The City of Tulsa is leading the way in safety and is now one of
the few municipalities in the nation to have a comprehensive
distracted driving policy. Please watch "The City of Tulsa
Puts the Brakes On Distracted Driving" video, produced by
the Communications Department.
I also encourage you and your family to follow the City of
Tulsa's lead and take steps to make your own vehicle a
distracted-free zone, not only to save your own life, but the lives
Dewey F. Bartlett Jr.
Revised Riverside Drive Plan Emphasizes Public Safety in Sidewalk
Design, Traffic Calming Measures
Our community is excited and eagerly awaiting the construction
of The Gathering Place on Riverside Drive. We are fortunate to have
private sector partners such as Tulsa Community Foundation and the
George Kaiser Family Foundation, demonstrate their generosity in
many ways, from charitable giving to developing public projects
that breathe new life into our city and improve our quality of
Make a Difference in a Child's Life Through Mentoring
January is National Mentoring Month and cities all across the
nation are focusing on the need for more mentors in schools to help
children and youth succeed in life.
Here in Tulsa, my wife, Victoria Bartlett and I have supported and
promoted the Mentoring to the Max initiative since I took office.
The Mayor's Mentoring to the Max awareness program pairs caring
adults with children who need a little extra attention to help them
lead successful, productive lives.
Mentoring makes a difference in our community and can positively
impact our city's economic health. As Mayor of Tulsa, I'm committed
to making sure our students are equipped with the knowledge and
skills they need for future success.
Last summer, the City of Tulsa took the lead and adopted Emerson
Elementary which is quite close to City Hall. Currently, 27 City
employees are actively engaged in Emerson, serving as weekly lunch
buddies, special guest readers and presenters (covering their field
of expertise at the City). I'm excited about the opportunity we
have as public servants to give back to our community and make a
difference in these students' lives.
I also hope you'll join us in our mentoring efforts and do
something great for Tulsa - share your gifts with a child to help
him or her succeed in school and prepare for the future. It only
takes an hour or so of your time each week,
either individually or in a group setting.
The time is now; make January the time to give back and nurture a
child. Read more about Mentoring to the Max on our website.
Dewey F. Bartlett Jr.