I-244’s detrimental impacts on the Greenwood District have become a topic of discussion.
A report recently identified the highway built through the heart of Greenwood the 1970s as one of several across the U.S. to tear down, and the Tulsa’s Young Professionals Urbanist Crew has now put forth a proposal on how to do that.
Cody Brandt with the TYPros Urbanist Crew gave a presenation last week on the proposal, which says a tunnel approach would be too expensive. In Dallas and Seattle, projects to move highways underground cost $440 million and $1.9 billion per mile. Brandt said a highways to boulevards approach could work, though.
“Two of these projects that were recently completed in similarly scaled cities to Tulsa would be Rochester, New York, and Milwaukee. So, these were about $30 million per mile, and this included completely tearing out the highway and rebuilding the street grids,” Brandt said.
The urbanist crew’s proposal involves tearing out I-244 and rebuilding the street grid from Kendall Whittier to Gilcrease Museum Road, with the newly available land being transferred to the communities it was taken from to build the highway, likely through a land trust. Brandt said that move could provide immediate and ongoing benefits to the city.
“ODOT does not pay property taxes, and just the amount of land that ODOT owns — it’s the IDL right-of-way — is about the same size as the entire area within the inside of the IDL,” Brandt said.
The TYPros urbanists’ proposal also recommends decommissioning portions of U.S. 75 and the Tisdale Expressway, as well as capping the Broken Arrow Expressway from Peoria to Denver.
The proposal is just a starting point. Brandt said it will take several steps to get it moving, like including language about removing portions of the IDL in local transportation plans and starting studies on removing the highway.