Thursday, September 10, 2009

Old North Road Update

County Commissioner Karen Keith and Tulsa County Engineer Ray Jordan held a meeting last night in Sand Springs about the widening and repaving planned for Old North Road. Gary Parker and I attended.

This project is scheduled to begin on September 21 and end on Oct 2, weather permitting, and will include only the western portion of the road, from 81st West Ave going west to Adams Road. It will include two 14 foot travel lanes and the fog line will be set back 1 foot from the pavement edge. This is not part of the traveled portion of the road. It's a buffer to prevent the road edge from crumbling.

The original plan called for two 12 foot lanes and a 4 foot bike lane along the west bound side only. When the maintenance problems were discussed, the plan was amended. A bike lane in this terrain would inevitably attract debris and it would not be swept clean by car tires. Additionally, there are places where sand and gravel would accumulate from washouts. Some cyclists would ride around them without looking for overtaking traffic, causing a hazard.

Another idea involved a three lane road way - two ascending lanes and one descending. This was not possible due to the limited right of way, topography, and corner radii.

There is support for a reduction in the speed limit along this road. Presently, it's a 40mph limit. The county can reduce that to 35mph but no further. There's a rule about speed limits in urban areas allowing the county to make further reductions if houses have less than 100 feet separation. That is not the case along Old North Road.

An alert reader pointed out that cyclists may be subject to speeding tickets after this change as they exceed that 35mph limit on the downhills.

Tulsa County engineer Ray Jordan and County Commissioner Karen Keith made it plain at the outset that the cyclists were not going away and that they have every right to use that roadway. This did much to quell any anti-cycling sentiments, though a few disparaging comments were made. Both Jordan and Keith are to be commended for their openness and genuine concern, not only for the residents of the area, but for those who are merely passing through as well.

This is a good compromise that will benefit both motorists and cyclists. Parker pointed out that the Wednesday night ride uses this route only 20 times per year if the weather cooperates, yet area residents gain a wider, smoother road surface for their every day use.

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