Gathering Place to blockade public trail, pedestrian bridge
We all liked the Gathering Place when it was a private institution pursuing a project on private property, but maybe it isn't so likable now when it's damaging public right-of-way for walkers, runners, and cyclists:
Most of the Midland Valley Trail will remain open, but its connection to the river will be severed as A Gathering Place for Tulsa construction gets underway.
The trail will be blocked off south of 26th Street to Riverside Drive until the first phase of construction is completed in 2017, planning officials said. It is portion of the trail that runs beside the former Blair Mansion property....
The Gathering Place property straddles the trail, and Stave [sic] didn't see how ongoing construction could keep it open to the public.
According to county assessor records, the trail is owned by the State of Oklahoma Department of Highways. The trail replaced the tracks of the Midland Valley Railroad. The state bought the rail line and right-of-way for construction of the Riverside Expressway, which would have left the Riverside corridor at that point, following the MVRR right-of-way to connect to the southeast interchange of the Inner Dispersal Loop. The Riverside Expressway plan was dropped in the 1970s in response to protests and lawsuits from Maple Ridge homeowners.
Although the closing of the trail will happen this week, the trail along Riverside Drive that connects to the walking bridge will remain open until the middle of 2015.
Stava said Riverside Drive construction will then shut down the affected portions of the River Parks East Trail along Riverside Drive.
The pedestrian bridge across the Arkansas River will also be shutdown in mid-2015 because pedestrians will have no place to go when crossing it from the west side, he said.
It's not said explicitly in the article, but the implication is that the bridge and east bank trail will also be closed until the end of the first phase of construction in 2017. That will create three dead-ends for our trail system -- the east bank trail approaching from the south, the east bank trail approaching from the north, and the Midland Valley trail -- and eliminate one of the easy loops around the river.
I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some Tulsans use the east bank and Midland Valley trails to commute to work.
During highway construction, contractors do their best to allow traffic to continue, with at least one lane in each direction. Shouldn't cyclists and joggers get the same courtesy?
As a private institution, the George Kaiser Family Foundation can't shut down public roads or rights-of-way on its own initiative. So who in city or state government granted permission?
UPDATE: A reader who commutes by bicycle writes:
You mentioned that you "wouldn't be surprised" that some Tulsans use it to commute to work. That's me.
For the last two years, I have ridden my bike from our house at 37th and Riverside down to the River trail, across Riverside on the Pedestrian Bridge, and into downtown on the Midland Valley trail. Lately I have added a stop at the Forge gym at 3rd and Peoria to my route before work, as I can make it to within a block or two using the north end of that trail. It is safe and keeps me off of the rush hour streets.
There are several other bikers I see every morning with backpacks like mine, clearly headed to work. It is our commuter street, and it's being completely shut down for 3 years. I can route around the closed portion, but for me it means I will have to cross Riverside at street level at 31st, cut to Boston Place, go north through Maple Ridge to 26th, then west to get back to the trail. If they close 31st at Riverside for the construction office, it will make it even more challenging. I would otherwise cut through the apartment complexes on Cincinnati (the only through street to get to 31st besides going up Peoria), but when they start demolition of the complexes in January they will undoubtedly close off some of that.
So who gave them permission? Good question.
Good point about the apartment complexes. Cincinnati Ave. is the only place to cross Crow Creek between Riverside and Peoria, the only connection between Maple Ridge and the northern residential part of Brookside to the Brookside commercial district that is safe and comfortable for pedestrians and cyclists. The Legacy at Riverview (formerly Place One) sits on both sides of Cincinnati just south of the Crow Creek bridge. The city ought to insist that this public street be kept open during demolition and construction, but given their apparent readiness to close public rights-of-way for three years for the benefit of a private project, I have a feeling the city won't press the issue with GKFF.
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