Tulsa Rail Corridor to Become Rec Trail

TULSA, Okla. – The Trust for Public Land (TPL) will convey over 4 miles of inactive railroad corridor in north Tulsa to the City of Tulsa, for the development of a scenic, recreational trail. The trail will extend from downtown Tulsa, near the OSU-Tulsa campus, to the City limits at 56th Street North. This rail-to-trail-conversion, which was contemplated in the Tulsa Metro Trails Master Plan, is just the first phase in an anticipated 35-mile project, connecting downtown Tulsa to Birch Lake, in Osage County.

TPL’s recently established Oklahoma State Office has identified the creation and preservation of parks and open space in the metropolitan areas of Tulsa and Oklahoma City as one of its highest priorities. As part of its Oklahoma Green Cities Initiative, TPL acquired the corridor from the South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad, of Pittsburgh, Kansas. The railroad company will salvage its rails and ties, leaving the ballast as a foundation for the trail.

“The conversion of the railroad line to recreational trail will be a tremendous amenity for residents of Tulsa,” said Robert Gregory, TPL Oklahoma State Director. “The Trust for Public Land is deeply grateful to the South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad Company for its generosity in working with us to accomplish this project. We believe it will help to create a stronger sense of community and civic pride in adjacent neighborhoods.”

“Creating recreational trails and parks is a very high priority for the City of Tulsa,” said Mayor M. Susan Savage. “Conversion of this railroad line enables the City to expand its trails and parks network into areas of the community that have not historically had nearby trail access.”

The trail will provide a variety of recreational opportunities for residents and visitors in north Tulsa, including walking, jogging, bicycling, and roller-blading. More importantly, the trail will connect several north Tulsa schools, homes, businesses, and churches. Specifically, the trail will connect downtown, OSU-Tulsa, Ben Hill Park, the Jordon Plaza Elderly Housing Project, Carver Middle School, Morton Health Services, the Rudisill North Regional Library, Lacy Park, Crawford Park, Hawthorne Park and Elementary School, the New Concept Preparatory School, the Tulsa Technology Center North Tulsa Campus, Whitman Elementary School, Alcott Elementary School, and McClain High School.

“This project was made possible through the hard work and assistance of INCOG and the City of Tulsa,” said Jack Blair, TPL Project Manager. “Both INCOG and the City were very enthusiastic about the project and worked very hard to ensure its success.”

Tulsa’s regional planning agency, INCOG, was instrumental in identifying this unique opportunity to preserve this corridor.

“The Tulsa Metro Trails Master Plan approved by INCOG contemplates the development of a nearly 300 mile system of multi-use trails throughout the metropolitan area,” said INCOG Deputy Director Rich Brierre. “This effort is a significant step forward in implementing this plan and providing these amenities to all our residents.”

No date has been set yet for development of the trail surface, though initial efforts are underway to secure funding through local sources and federal transportation funds.

The Trust for Public Land is a national, nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1972 to protect open space and natural resources that serve the needs of people. In its 28 years, TPL has added almost 2,000 properties across the country to the nation’s common wealth of public open space – more than 1,500,000 acres of land valued at nearly $2 billion. In Oklahoma, the Trust has protected roughly 5,000 acres of natural areas, including an easement on a 1,000-acre ranch near Tulsa, a 222-acre addition to the Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge near Okmulgee, and an 850-acre addition to the Little River National Wildlife Refuge in McCurtain County.