Project Description: :
Private Toll Bridge to Connect Tulsa County
Leaders of business and government announced Friday March 26, 2004 that a detailed ?investment grade? study will be conducted for a $20 million bridge across the Arkansas River to connect South Yale Avenue with South Yale Place between 121st Street and 131st Street. Anticipated positive results would provide justification for private business to invest $20 million dollars.
Commissioner Bob Dick said, This is the way to make things happen quickly. We are speeding delivery of this important bridge by a minimum of twenty years.
"This project represents a continuation of the positive momentum created during the Vision 2025 campaign. This bridge has long been a key element of the metropolitan area's strategic transportation plan and would unlock a very large area of southern Tulsa County for residential, commercial and recreational development," Commissioner Dick added.
William S. Bacon, President of Infrastructure Ventures, Inc. the Tulsa-based company that would build the bridge, estimates the study could be completed as soon as September 1 of this year. A long-term agreement with Tulsa County is the catalyst for the project's private investment. The company would lease the property from the County for more than enough to cover acquisition costs and the company would be responsible for all upkeep and maintenance. Law enforcement, emergency response and snow and ice removal would be contracted with the County.
An initial study of the project showed it to be economically viable. The more detailed study announced will precisely determine the expected economics of the project, such as anticipated traffic count, estimated toll levels and a variety of other issues. Wilbur Smith Associates, renowned infrastructure consultants, will conduct the study.
Bacon said a positive outcome of the detailed study could lead to immediate financing. If all arrangements can be completed with various government entities, construction could start next year with the anticipated competition date of October of 2006.
Officials said the bridge will;
Relieve two north-south corridors, U.S. 64 (South Memorial Drive) and U.S. 75 (Okmulgee Beeline) of up to 10,000 vehicle trips per day.
Immediately open thousands of acres for residential, commercial, and industrial and recreational uses.
Allow the facility to be built up to 20 years sooner than by using traditional financing from tax sources, which are scarce.
Increase use of the Creek Turnpike and Oklahoma transportation Authority revenue by utilizing Pike Pass technology.
Permit new investments to begin almost immediately, boosting property and other tax revenue. The north side of the bridge is in Tulsa. The south side is in Jenks. The project lies almost entirely within the Bixby School District. As a privately owned investment, the bridge will be subject to property tax.
Create an immediate new focal point for further development of the Riverside Drive and Arkansas River Corridor.
Board of County Commissioners Chairman Randi Miller said, "So many wonderful things are going on through-out Tulsa County. We hope this is but one of many new public/private projects that will come on-line in the near future."
State Senator Nancy Riley, R-Tulsa, said, "I am fully supportive of the project, especially based on the trends of growing population, employment and business establishments over the past 10 years."
State Representative Ron Peterson, R-Tulsa, said, "This bridge is something we have been working on for a number of years and represents a tremendous opportunity to positively impact economic development south of the Arkansas River. It will provide the needed access to Tulsa which in Turn will allow commercial and residential development to begin in earnest."
Representative Fred Perry, R-Tulsa, said, "I think the bridge is a great idea, particularly since it would be paid for by the people who benefit the most through user tolls. It makes no difference to me whether it is done by a private company or the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, whichever one will provide the best deal for the users and the City of Bixby."
In 1901 the first bridge across the Arkansas River in the Tulsa area was build by three enterprising Tulsa businessmen at the site of the current Southwest Boulevard and I-244 Bridges as a toll bridge. Completed in 1904 as a private toll bridge, it became vitally important to the area's economic development by removing a primary obstacle between the City of Tulsa on the east side and the oil fields on the west side of the Arkansas.