Dept. of Transportation looking at I-244, as it cuts through Greenwood

U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, tours the area

TULSA, Okla. — Some state lawmakers said there’s a disconnect with government agencies when it comes to plans for I-244, as cuts through historic Greenwood, dividing it into two parts.

Community leaders hope U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg’s visit last week will mean the start to turn Greenwood into one neighborhood again.

North Tulsans and state lawmakers for the Greenwood area said it was a blessing for Secretary Buttigieg to walk through the area and see the impacts the interstate has on Greenwood. Lawmakers say this move shows the Biden Administration is listening, but they hope state entities and the City of Tulsa are, too.

“This overpass that hemorrhaged our community back in the ‘60s. We have to repurpose it or remove it,” Greenwood Chamber of Commerce President Dr. Freeman Culver says.

State Representative Regina Goodwin met with Secretary Buttigieg while he was in Tulsa last week and toured Greenwood. She said she submitted an application for President Biden’s Infrastructure Act aiming to reconnect communities. If selected, federal dollars will help with plans to remove or partially remove I-244 from Greenwood.

“We talked about giving back to the historic residents, moderate housing in terms of affordability, and small businesses and we can repopulate this area for generations to come,” she said.

Goodwin adds, there’s one problem; The Oklahoma Department of Transportation isn’t on the same page.

“We reached out to the state and to the city a year ago and have tried to collaborate and certainly have tried to do that, but hearing they have their own plans without inviting community members and representatives to the table. There’s a disconnect,” she said.

ODOT sent this statement:

“The Oklahoma Department of Transportation recognizes the history and importance of the Greenwood area to the community and has taken measures in recent years to make Interstate 244 more visually appealing and helping the neighborhood become more walkable. These efforts include providing space for murals on multiple retaining walls and underpasses as well as building the Pathway to Hope, a $5 million walking path connecting Greenwood Avenue and John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park.

The Inner Dispersal Loop is a critical part of the expressway system in northeast Oklahoma, the region and the nation, and I-244 itself carries between 70,000-80,000 vehicles per day. Additionally, the state has invested $245 million of taxpayer money on improvements and maintenance of the IDL since 2005. The Department will continue to dialog with the City of Tulsa to consider opportunities for planning the future of I-244. Any contemplation of a potential closure of the interstate should only be in a long-range planning context. Such an initiative would need to consider multiple issues, including impacts to the highway and local street system, necessary upgrades to other facilities, access to Downtown Tulsa, and potential alternate routes. We look forward to working with the city as well as the Greenwood community.”

The City of Tulsa said Mayor G.T. Bynum was not there for the Greenwood tour and did not discuss 244 cutting through Greenwood during his time with Secretary Buttigieg.







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