Riverside Drive opened to traffic this morning at 6 a.m. between 21st Street and 41st Street, and Mayor G.T. Bynum hosted a news conference at 8 a.m. today to mark the occasion, joined by U.S. Senator James Inhofe; Louisa Ward, Assistant Division Administrator for the Oklahoma Division of the Federal Highway Administration; and Jeff Stava, Executive Director of the Gathering Place.
“This stretch of Riverside Drive used to be a pleasant stretch of road where you might slow down to take a look if the river happened to have water in it,” said Mayor G.T. Bynum. “As Tulsans will see, the new Riverside Drive is now one of the most iconic streets in our city, transporting people through the majesty of the Gathering Place and River Parks. This is an exciting time for Tulsa.”
Motorists returning to Riverside Drive will have a completely new experience driving between 21st and 41st Streets. The Gathering Place includes two land bridges over Riverside Drive. Drivers will pass under tunnels at these land bridge locations. Reconstruction of Riverside Drive also includes safety improvements such as removing the dip in the road and straightening the curve near the Midland Valley Trail Pedestrian Bridge just north of 31st Street.
“The reconstruction of Riverside Drive is a standout example of how federal infrastructure investment can support critical state and local projects through targeted grants,” Senator Inhofe said. “We’ve used a public-private partnership to transform a community – making safety improvements, supporting pedestrian infrastructure and increasing economic opportunity at a significant thoroughfare. I was pleased to work with state and local leaders to ensure the success of this project.”
Traffic calming features added to this stretch of Riverside Drive include 10-foot-wide lanes, a 35-mile-per-hour speed limit, and divided lanes with trees and medians. The new sidewalk north of the Gathering Place has a tree lawn behind the back of the curb – added to give a feeling of narrowing the corridor.
“To take a vision of this scale from the drawing board to having its importance recognized at the federal level shows the tremendous support and need for this project,” Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Mike Patterson said. “The improvements to Riverside Drive will greatly enhance the experience for travelers to the Gathering Place, for local commuters and for the pedestrians and cyclists on the trail system in this corridor.”
Coordinating with construction of the Gathering Place, the City of Tulsa has made approximately $40 million in improvements to Riverside and nearby infrastructure. These include the following:
“We are so thankful for the patience and understanding of the citizens of Tulsa as the city worked to upgrade our public infrastructure in, around and through Gathering Place Park," said Jeff Stava, executive director and trustee of Tulsa's Gathering Place LLC. "We now have an iconic roadway along the river that Tulsans can be proud of, featuring pedestrian land bridges that unify the park and Riverside Drive in a dynamic way."
Funding for Riverside Drive reconstruction and related projects has come from the Improve Our Tulsa Third Penny Sales Tax, stormwater enterprise funds and a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the Federal Highway Administration, secured through the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG).