A three-mile stretch of Avery Drive that’s popular with bicyclists is getting a smooth new look.

For the past month, Tulsa County highway crews have been milling bumps, sealing cracks, stretching fabric and laying asphalt along the 32-foot-wide road from 21st Street to Oklahoma 97 in Sand Springs.

“The way that thing (the road) is on the side of the hill, it is continually slipping and settling,” said Tulsa County Engineer Tom Rains.

“I fully expect it to settle again, but this fix will hold for a while.”

When the road is reopened early next month, it will again include 5-foot-wide cycling lanes on either side as well as new guardrails.

That’s good news for the local bicycling community.

“It’s a very important corridor for cyclists to get to that part of town … and to those who want to get to low-traffic arterials,” said Adam Vanderburg, owner of Lee’s Bicycles and the Trek Store of Tulsa.

Rains said the repaved road will retain the old road’s flashing signal lights. The lights are triggered when a cyclist rides by.

“That kind of alerts people that there is a bicyclist ahead,” Rains said. “It’s on both ends” of the road.

County road crews are responsible for maintaining 725 miles of roads in unincorporated Tulsa County.

Funding for the roadwork comes primarily from state fuel taxes and other dedicated sources.

Repaving Avery Drive – with its 15,000 tons of fresh asphalt – is expected to cost a little more than $700,000, with Sand Springs paying about $35,000 for work done in Sand Springs near Oklahoma 97.

The county’s annual Highway Department budget is about $7 million – a figure that has remained steady for years, Rains said.

The county repaves an average of nine to 12 miles of road each year.

For the past few years, the county has benefited from a joint venture with the Cherokee Nation.

Under the program, the tribe pays for materials and the county does the work.

Still, road-work funding is tight.

“As costs go up, salaries and benefits go up. We really have less dollars to do maintenance and operations,” Rains said.

About 25 county employees were working on Avery Drive on Monday.

Four or five workers operated the lone paver.

Fifteen more kept the huge machine inching along by filling it with fresh loads of asphalt from their trucks, and three followed in rollers to give the roadway a smooth finish.

The fresh asphalt hits the ground at about 300 degrees. Add the 100-degree-plus temperatures outside, and it’s a hot, sticky job.

But Bill Duncan, 61, said it hasn’t really been that bad.

“It’s been pretty easy,” he said from the driver’s seat of the paver. “When we get parking lots, that’s when we get a little hectic, going around islands and stuff like that.

“These straight runs are like gravy to us.”


By Kevin Canfield of the Tulsa World

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