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Local & Regional

Long-Awaited Gilcrease Expressway Extension Moving Forward

gilcrease_extension.jpeg
Matt Trotter
/
KWGS

Within about three years, the Gilcrease Expressway will finally connect I-44 and Highway 412.

The City of Tulsa, state of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority are teaming up to build 5 miles of four-lane toll road that will finish a Gilcrease loop envisioned for around 50 years. Turnpike board Chair Kell Kelly expects it will have the same impact as the Creek and Kilpatrick turnpikes.

"You will provide for the safety of the motoring public by moving significant traffic to the new motorway, which will allow you not only to see that safety enhanced, but you also — following that, you'll see enormous economic development," Kelly said.

The project was part of a statewide transportation improvements plan announced in 2015. State Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley was among those acknowledging how much longer than that the Gilcrease plan has been around.

"Thank you, all for your patience for 50 years. You've got about three more years of patience we're going to need from you before we open this up, but it will come and it will happen," Ridley said.

Six public entities at the local, state and federal levels are involved in the project. A private sector investor will be announced in the coming months.

That investor will contribute around one-third of the project's cost. It will recoup those by collecting a portion of the tolls for a period of time.

Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith said the extension will improve access to amenities like Chandler Park and Tulsa Community College's west campus.

"Public safety will benefit this region with easier access to both our industrial companies as well as the residents in Berryhill," Keith said. "We all recognize that if Highway 97 or 412 gets blocked, there will now be an alternate safety valve."

The turnpike will be built roughly along 57th West Avenue.