Traffic congestion has disappeared at 51st Street and Harvard Avenue, once among the city’s most congested intersections. Half-mile traffic jams were common for most directions on a daily basis, especially the eastbound left-turn lane, and northbound and southbound traffic in general. The intersection underwent a massive reconstruction in conjunction with the I-44 widening project and saw numerous revisions, including dual left-turn lanes and extra lanes for through traffic.The intersection received dual left-turn lanes for all but northbound traffic, and each approach has at least five (total) lanes for through traffic. A right-turn lane also was added for northbound traffic.The project
included widening and rebuilding 51st Street from Columbia to Marion avenues, with the new street being concrete and containing five lanes from Columbia to the Harvard Avenue approach, at which point the eastbound lanes expand to three through lanes, a dual left-turn lane and the right-turn lane (which was in the previous design), while westbound traffic has two lanes. East of Harvard Avenue, 51st Street has three
eastbound through lanes to Marion Avenue, at which point the third lane joins a second left-turn lane to form a dual left-turn lane to access I-44. The eastbound I-44 exit ramp to Harvard Avenue also is at this location. The westbound side has two through lanes between Marion and Harvard avenues but expands to include a new dual left-turn lane and retains the right-turn lane at Harvard Avenue. Harvard Avenue was widened from the Little Joe Creek bridge to north of I-44, with the south approach containing three through lanes each way, plus a single northbound left-turn lane and right-turn lane. A fourth northbound through lane is joined by a second lane immediately north of 51st Street that forms a dual left-turn lane at I-44. Southbound traffic has a dual left-turn lane at 51st Street, while the three remainming lanes continue through the intersection and then narrow to two near Little Joe Creek. The Harvard Avenue ramp revisions eliminated the former exit ramp intersection and signal on 51st Street near Evanston Avenue. Likewise, the old eastbound I-44 entrance ramp from Harvard Avenue also was removed. The project also included removing all businesses from the north side of 51st Street between Marion and Wheeling (west of Lewis Avenue) avenues, including an office building near 51st Street and Lewis Avenue. The Woodland West shopping center on the north side of 51st Street, east of Harvard Avenue, was demolished, as were the Ramada and Howard Johnson's hotels west of Harvard Avenue. Other casualties included apartments and a couple of banks. Several businesses, including Bodean's Seafood, relocated to the south side of 51st Street. Jamil's, a Tulsa restaurant that has been around for many years, relocated to a new site on 51st Street east of Marion Avenue. Some other businesses, such as El Chico on 51st Street west of Lewis Avenue, did not relocate. Following the improvements, traffic flow should be excellent for many years to come. Photo taken November 2011.
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.