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U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announces $10M grant to reconnect west Tulsa neighborhoods

A photo of Secretary Pete Buttigieg joined by Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, State Transportation Secretary Tim Gatz, and Linda Fitzgerald. Taken by Cassidy Mudd on August 23, 2022. (KWGS)

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited Oklahoma on Tuesday to highlight a $10 million federal grant awarded for a major infrastructure project in west Tulsa.

The project will reconstruct the area of West 51st Street to reconnect neighborhoods cut off after the construction of U.S. 75.

Secretary Buttigieg said the project will address safety and convivence, and will help to create jobs for the area.

"We're eager to see this to get done as quickly as possible — in the stretch while it's under construction, the good jobs that it will create," Buttigieg explained. "And then as soon as it's finished, the difference it's going to make for neighborhoods that have literally been waiting for something like this for decades."

Tulsa City Councilor Jeannie Cue of the district said she believes the project will help to give residents their neighborhoods back.

"Uniting a district is always great," the city councilor began. "We have too many big trucks with all the industrial parks on Elwood, and it wasn't fair to residents. We're very excited about the connection."

City leaders successfully applied for the federal grant through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity, or the RAISE program, made possible by President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Buttigieg said these funds could also be used to address another dividing highway in Tulsa — Interstate 244. The expressway, constructed in the late 60's, cut Black Wall Street off from the rest of Tulsa.

"We know that advocates here on the ground have wanted to do something about that disconnection for a long time," Buttigieg said. "I'm eager to learn more for myself and fully expect that we'll get some ideas and applications about how federal dollars might help there as well."

According to the state grant application, the project for West 51 Street is scheduled to start in Spring of 2024 and is expected to finish in Fall of 2025.

Before making her way to Public Radio Tulsa, KWGS News Director Cassidy Mudd worked as an assignment editor and digital producer at a local news station. Her work has appeared on ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates across the country.