From the sky, it’s plain to see that the Gathering Place and Riverside Drive projects are finally coming together.
Nothing tells the story better than the way the road intersects the park, a clear demarcation between its east and west sides, linked majestically by land bridges. One can even see work vehicles traversing the road.
What’s not visible, though — not even at ground level — is striping.
That’s about to change. A city contractor, Becco Contractors Inc, began work last week and is scheduled to be done Aug. 26.
It’s just in time. The Gathering Place will open Sept. 8. Two days later, at 6 a.m. Monday, Sept. 10, the stretch of Riverside Drive from roughly 24th to 35th streets will be reopened to motorists for the first time in more than three years.
Paul Zachary, director of the city’s Engineering Services Department, said Monday that the striping has been designed to keep motorists safe.
“As a part of the Riverside Drive improvements throughout the Gathering Place, we wanted to incorporate some traffic-calming features,” Zachary said. “So not only are we striping the roadway with thinner lanes, we have also, between the 2700 and 2400 blocks, included a tree lawn adjacent to the roadway.”
Riverside Drive was averaging about 27,000 cars a day when the stretch of the roadway was closed as part of the infrastructure work around the Gathering Place, according to the city. With the Gathering Place expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors during its first few months, traffic along Riverside Drive will only get heavier.
The posted speed limit will be 35 mph, Zachary said, but “additional traffic-calming measures can be added” if necessary.
The look of Riverside Drive between 21st and 41st streets will vary slightly along the route.
Across the length of the park — from the 2700 block to 33rd Place — the lanes will be 10 feet wide in each direction, with medians ranging from 16 feet to 21 feet wide.
Heading south along Riverside Drive from 33rd Place to 41st Street, the lanes will be 10 feet wide with a raised, approximately 4-foot-wide median. Heading north from the entrance of the park, at the 2700 block to the 2400 block, the lanes will again be 10 feet wide, but there will be no medians.
Zachary said the actual roadway allows for two 12-foot-wide lanes curb to curb to facilitate buses and service vehicles but that the lanes are being striped to be 10 feet wide to help encourage lower speeds.
Jeff Stava, executive director and trustee of Tulsa’s Gathering Place LLC, said motorists will be impressed with the new roadway.
“The drive down Riverside Drive will be completely transformed from what Tulsans saw before,” Stava said. “The road, if you remember, was narrow and a kind of an older, concrete structure with fairly shallow curbs and a view of the Blair Mansion and lawn and into the river.
“Now the roadway has been transformed into a true parkway with a 16-foot, tree-lined center median and expansive, tree- and plant-filled berms on each side.”