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$50 million approved for Tulsa levee project

Gov. Kevin Stitt signs House Bill 2890 into effect on Friday, May 31, 2024, in the Tulsa County Commissioners chambers.
Max Bryan
/
KWGS News
Gov. Kevin Stitt signs House Bill 2890 into effect on Friday, May 31, 2024, in the Tulsa County Commissioners chambers.

With the governor’s blessing, a levee system that was pushed almost to its breaking point five years ago is now getting fixed.

House Bill 2890 puts $50 million of state money toward repairing the Arkansas River levees in Oklahoma’s second largest city.

“There’s a lot of great things we do at the Capitol, but very few times do we get to do something we know for a fact, it’s going to save lives and protect our investment for the future,” said Rep. Lonnie Sims, who presented the bill to the House of Representatives.

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the bill Friday, almost exactly five years after the Arkansas River flooded dozens of homes and tested the strength of the levee system.

The United States Corps of Engineers called the levee system “very high risk” in an assessment after the flood.

According to a House of Representatives news release, the levee system protects roughly 10,000 people and more than $2 billion in assets.

In total, more than $187 million in state and federal money will go toward the levee system, which protects west Tulsa and Sand Springs.

Gov. Kevin Stitt said U.S. senators Markwayne Mullin and James Lankford helped secure funding for the project. Rep. Kyle Hilbert said former senator Jim Inhofe also helped secure money before he retired.

“That’s kind of what this project is. It’s the state coming together, it’s our federal partners, it’s our local counties and our county commissioners. It’s everybody coming together to fix this,” Stitt said.

Sen. Cody Rogers said the bill was brought before the Legislature six times before it passed this session

“The individuals that live behind this levee are some of the lowest-income individuals of Tulsa,” he said. “They don’t have much. This levee will protect them, and (hopefully) drive economic development toward west Tulsa.”

Hilbert called the bill “a huge win” for the Tulsa area and for the state.

“Whether it’s in five years or 25 years, those levees are going to be tested, and lives are going to be saved, property is going to be saved,” he said.

Max Bryan is a news anchor and reporter for KWGS. A Tulsa native, Bryan worked at newspapers throughout Arkansas and in Norman before coming home to "the most underrated city in America." Several of Bryan's news stories have either led to or been cited in changes both in the public and private sectors.