A billion dollars but nothing to fix I-44


The yeasayers are telling us that we have to raise local taxes to fund additions to state colleges because we can't count on the state to fund Tulsa campuses adequately. If that's so, there should have been money in this package to fund a far more pressing need -- completing the widening of I-44, particularly its most overburdened and dangerous stretch between the junction of I-44 and I-244 and the junction of I-44 and US 412.

Coming from the west, three lanes from I-44 and three lanes from I-244 narrow down to two for about four miles, before splitting off to become two lanes to Joplin and two lanes to Northwest Arkansas.

Last night, I drove my children out to east Tulsa, to my parents' home for a family gathering. KOTV had contacted me about getting my reaction to the "unveiling" of the arena proposal (really a rehash from three years ago), so I arranged to meet them at my folks' house.

We passed the 129th East Avenue exit on 244 and rounded the bend to see a traffic backed up from I-44 onto the overpass. This is not unusual, and I had no options, so we waited.

It took us nearly 90 minutes to travel the mile and a half to the next exit. There had been a horrific fatal accident near 193rd East Avenue -- a truck lost control, crossed the road and sliced the top off of the car, taking the driver with it.

Once we got off the interstate, traffic was backed up for a mile on Admiral with cars that had diverted from the expressway. It was getting close to 8:30, and the KOTV guys (who had been waiting patiently in front of my folks' place) arranged to meet me near where we were stuck, so they could return to the station in time to produce the story for the 10 o'clock broadcast.

The chaotic, dangerous mess that is I-44 is the first thing to greet visitors to our city and every day it inconveniences and endangers our own citizens. If we raise taxes by a billion to spend on arenas and pools and bribes to Boeing, we won't have it to fix more critical needs.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 31, 2003 11:05 PM.

No federal money for river was the previous entry in this blog.

The fiscal case: Why Vision 2025 is myopic is the next entry in this blog.

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