The 51st Street and Memorial Drive intersection is one of Tulsa's busiest, with traffic congestion during the afternoon hours and Saturdays, and the westbound left-turn lane often backed up onto the two-lane section east of Memorial Drive. On a Sunday morning, however, the intersection has little traffic. The intersection was widened in 1974-1976 as part of the Memorial Drive widening project between 41st and 71st streets. In the fall of 1974, the intersection was two lanes on each approach with a cable-strung traffic signal. Work then began on the widening project, which saw no-left-turn signs appear almost immediately and featured an assortment of traffic signal configurations on the cable. The southbound and westbound lanes were the first paved, followed by the northbound and eastbound lanes. A small hill on 51st Street just west of Memorial Drive was removed during the project. An interesting note is that when the permanent signals first were installed during the project, the future left-turn signal was a regular light (no square signals). The square signals were installed later in the project and contained a solid green lens in place of the arrow until the project was completed in late winter 1976. At that time, left-turn signals were put into operation, and traffic flow was much improved. The intersection was converted to the yield system in the spring of 1982, and right-turn arrows were eliminated for northbound and westbound traffic. The Mingo Valley Expressway opened last year to 51st Street, and most of the traffic travels west to Memorial Drive to continue south, especially since no-left-turn signs are in effect at 51st Street and Mingo Road from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. There is much development at the intersection. A Skaggs Alpha Beta (formerly Skaggs Albertson's and Handy Dan are on the southwest corner, with Manhattan Furniture to the west. The northwest corner contains the Fontana Shopping Center, including Luby's Cafeteria (previously was Wyatt's), Fontana 4 Cinema and a variety of other stores. A variety of smaller businesses are on the northeast corner, including Rosie's Rib Joint. The southeast corner is home to Memorial Park Cemetery, which is very large. Photo taken July 1982.
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