Frequently Asked Questions


Projects Under Construction

  • What has happened since approval of the Improve Our Tulsa sales tax and General Obligation Bond?
  • November 2013-April 2014: City departments and Mayor drafted a sales tax appropriation schedule for Improve Our Tulsa projects to present with the Fiscal Year 2014-2015 budget.

    The draft schedule covers the entire Improve Our Tulsa program, extending through 2020. Appropriations will be approved each year with the budget; however, they are subject to change.

    May 1, 2014: Mayor presented Fiscal Year 2014-2015 budget to City Council.

    May-June 2014: Council considered Mayor's budget, made changes, and then adopted the Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Budget and Capital Plan.

    July 1, 2014 – City sales tax rate changed to 3.1 percent. This includes two cents for general operations and 1.1 cents for capital improvement projects.

    July 1, 2014 - First fiscal year (2014-2015) appropriation of the 1.1 percent sales tax became available for Improve Our Tulsa projects.

    December 2014 - February 2015: First General Obligation Bonds will be sold to make funds available for Improve Our Tulsa projects.


  • How much interest cost will the City of Tulsa pay to issue the General Obligation Bonds?
  • A General Obligation Bond is similar to a home mortgage loan. The City of Tulsa finances General Obligation Bonds over a 20-year period. Under a future interest rate assumption of 3.3 percent, costs would total roughly $129.0 million for the $355 million in General Obligation Bonds or 27 percent of the original principal. Rates could vary from 4.3 percent in a modestly growing economy to the 2.3 percent experienced in our most recent bond sale.

  • Now that the Improve Our Tulsa sales tax and General Obligation Bond have been approved, who will make sure the projects we voted for will be completed as promised?
  • The Sales Tax Overview Committee is comprised of 21 citizens who are tasked with keeping the City of Tulsa in line on projects approved by the citizens of Tulsa. This committee meets monthly at City Hall and publishes a report that is included annually in City utility statements.

  • Does money from the Third Penny Sales Tax and General Obligation Bond go to the general fund for manpower - including City, fire and police employees' salaries?
  • No. Money from the Third Penny and General Obligation Bond is not used to pay for any City employees' salaries. This money goes to capital improvements that are necessary for maintenance of city facilities, public safety equipment, roads and other infrastructure.

  • What are capital improvement projects?
  • Capital is most often public infrastructure, including streets, parks, stormwater facilities, buildings and City properties. Also included are public safety vehicles, technology needed to provide City services, and funds for planning activities such as redevelopment.

  • How will Improve Our Tulsa benefit our city?
  • Improve Our Tulsa provides $918.7 million for street and transportation projects and capital improvements for many areas of city services. A complete listing of the projects, including costs, can be found at www.improveourtulsa.com

  • What are the funding sources for Improve Our Tulsa projects?
  • Funding for Improve Our Tulsa projects comes from both sales tax and General Obligation Bonds issued by the City of Tulsa.

    The sales tax consists of an extension of the Third Penny Sales Tax (1.1 percent) for $563.7 million or seven years, whichever comes first. Improve Our Tulsa also includes issuance of $355 million in General Obligation Bonds over five years.


  • Where exactly will this money be going? Can I see an itemized list?
  • Lists of Improve Our Tulsa projects are accessible through the Street Project Information and Other Project Information sections on the home page of www.improveourtulsa.com. Maps also have been created to show the locations and costs of all of the capital improvement projects included in the program. These maps are online at .

  • Are all areas of the city included in this program?
  • Yes. Project funding is distributed among the nine City Council districts according to need. For streets, the City of Tulsa has used the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers based Pavement Management System and Pavement Condition Index since the 1990s.

  • How was this particular capital improvements program developed?
  • With Fix Our Streets results showing the City’s accountability, the time came for renewal of the Third Penny Sales Tax and General Obligation Bonds. In the spring and summer of 2013, a total of 14 public meetings were held citywide to gather citizens’ priorities for funding and choices of projects to be included in the package. At the end of August 2013, the City Council approved a final capital improvements package for consideration at the November 2013 election. Voters approved both the Third Penny Sales Tax and issuance of General Obligation Bonds.

  • Does any money from area toll roads come back to the city to pay for our streets?
  • No. Tolls go to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to support maintenance of turnpikes.

  • Do casinos help pay for city streets?
  • No. The City of Tulsa receives no taxes or general revenue from casinos.

  • Does the city match federal dollars for streets funding?
  • Federal dollars are available for the state and federal highway system, and they require a match for some projects. The City of Tulsa has received federal funds to help construct the Gilcrease Expressway. Federal funds are not available for neighborhood streets and most arterial streets.

  • When the Improve Our Tulsa program was developed, were issues like inflation and the rising cost of materials taken into account?
  • Yes. Developers of the Improve Our Tulsa program built in allowances for increases in construction costs with an additional contingency included as well.

  • What is the "Pavement Condition Index" that is used to rate our streets?
  • Nationally, cities use a Pavement Condition Index (PCI) to rate streets on a 100-point scale, with failed streets rated at 0 and excellent streets at 100. Tulsa uses this standard rating to help determine what type of work is needed for each street, as well as to help prioritize the order in which streets are repaired.

  • Does this program fix the potholes on the Broken Arrow Expressway?
  • No, the Expressway is a state highway and repairs are the responsibility of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

  • Does this program address repairs to neighborhood streets?
  • Yes. Improve Our Tulsa includes extensive repair work to neighborhood streets as well as arterial streets.

  • Does the program fix any streets in Tulsa suburbs like Broken Arrow?
  • No. The repairs focus on street projects in the nine council districts of the City of Tulsa

  • Will street repairs consist of just filling potholes, or does it mean repaving streets?
  • Street repairs included in Improve Our Tulsa include repaving, rehabilitation and similar solutions. For details, see www.improveourtulsa.com. City street maintenance crews fill potholes year round, using funds from the general operating fund. The patches are a temporary fix until a larger patch can be made by cutting out a square section of pavement surrounding the pothole and filling it with asphalt or concrete.

  • How long will it take to fix the streets?
  • Generally, the City of Tulsa follows certain schedules regarding funding, design, and construction of street projects:

    Funding for street projects usually is included as part of a sales tax extension or general obligation bond issue. Improve Our Tulsa includes a seven-year sales tax extension and bonds issued over a five-year period.

    Design of a street project follows a nine- to 12-month process, depending on the size and complexity of the project design. The process begins with collection of information from sources including public meetings, field investigations and records of past issues. Once initial information is collected, the design engineer determines the best way to address the needs using available funding. Street project design plans may include replacement of substandard water and sanitary sewer lines in proximity of the street and correction of drainage issues.

    Most street projects require additional right-of-way and utility relocation. Right-of-way acquisition can take up to 12 months depending on the number of parcels. Utility relocation may take a few weeks or up to 18 months depending on the relocations or replacements required and the workload of the utility companies.

    When the design of a street project is complete and approved, the project is publicly advertised for construction bids usually for around 28 days, or no less than 20 days per state law. During this time, the plans are available for review by all contractors on the City’s prequalification list. At the end of the 28 days, the bids are opened publicly by the City.

    The bid is reviewed and approved through a two-step process. The first step is to award the project to the lowest, responsible bidder, usually within 14 to 21 days after the bids are opened. The second step is execution of the construction contracts, usually 14 to 21 days after the award is approved.

    Once the contracts are executed, the City notifies the contractor and a start date for construction is determined. Construction time depends on the size of the project area and amount of work to be performed.


  • Does the City aggressively advertise contracting opportunities to out-of-area firms so we can have a more robust competition for road work?
  • The City of Tulsa currently advertises all projects with the "Tulsa Daily Commerce & Legal News" and posts all projects on the City of Tulsa website. In addition to that public advertisement, plans are provided to the Dodge Report, Bid News and Southwest Construction News. The Dodge Report is a national firm owned by McGraw-Hill and has a national database that publishes work being bid throughout the United States. Southwest Construction News is a group from Oklahoma and provides a plan room for contractors in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. They report that they also provide information to contractors in surrounding states. Bid News is from Oklahoma and maintains a plan room in Oklahoma City and Tulsa for contractors.

    The City of Tulsa also provides a list of upcoming projects for bid to the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. (ABC) and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). ABC and AGC are national organizations with offices in the state of Oklahoma. City Council discussion of this issue revealed two main points of view:

    1. The sales tax and bond issues are funds raised and paid by "Tulsans" so therefore keep the work local. To that end, we have a 50 percent residency affidavit that contractors submit as part of their sealed bids for Tulsa work. The intent is to encourage and ensure "Tulsans" benefit from a locally raised tax even though a contractor may be from out of the area.
    2. We need to open up a perceived closed market. Open up our work to Oklahoma City, Kansas, Texas, and Arkansas contractors. The intent, as noted in the question, is to get better bids.

    In the past, our construction program has attracted contractors from surrounding states and other Oklahoma communities which have set up operations in our area. As we advertise our projects and the word gets out regarding the size, magnitude, and type of work, contractors will be interested. They will see that our consistent program offers them more than just a one-shot attempt at getting work. Once here, contractors are then in a better position to operate a sustainable effort.

    An example is the extensive sanitary sewer rehab program we ran from the 1990s to 2006. General contractors as well as specialty contractors came to town to work on manhole and pipe-lining projects. As the work curtailed, these contractors either diversified into other types of work or left the area. We get similar attention from professional consultants in surrounding states.

    Having contractors come into the community does not occur without some conflict and growing pains. Each contractor must become accustomed to doing business in the Tulsa environment including our urbanized areas. Although our technical specifications are fairly standard, we have added unique items and deleted others according to what has worked in the past. Other areas of adjustment may include slight variations in standard drawings, construction techniques to meet our performance specifications, and developing working relationships with superintendents and project managers. Becoming familiar with our work environment requires a time investment to achieve success.

    We have been and are open to new contractors. It does work best, however, when they open a local office and delegate authority to a local individual to handle day-to-day issues. State statutes and our bidding processes require that we do award to the lowest, responsible bidder. We have a prequalification process to screen the capabilities and financial viability of the contractors that work for the citizens of the City of Tulsa. Our bonding requirements are another level of protection for the taxpayer. So the City’s program is set up with certain levels of safeguards that do allow us to open up our work to "out-of-area" contractors.

    As far as additional, specific efforts and plans to "reach out" to out-of-area contractors, a process has not been defined. One approach may be to solicit approved or pre-qualified contractors from surrounding states’ Department of Transportation agencies. A mailing could be generated that would introduce the funding program and explain our pre-qualification ordinance with information on how to be eligible to work for the City.

    The pre-qualification process is not something to be completed after a project advertises. It takes time to generate the required information for the application, have the background information verified by the City Clerk’s office, and then have the application approved by the contractor pre-qualification committee. As outlined above, the notification of public bids is currently going to a wide audience, but it is a business decision for the out-of-area contractors to expand their operation to our area. The opportunity to participate in the amount of work included in Improve Our Tulsa projects may be the needed incentive.


  • How do the City of Tulsa and Oklahoma Department of Transportation coordinate their projects to allow the best possible traffic flow?
  • The City of Tulsa and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation coordinate all work where overlaps between city streets and highways exist. Both entities try to minimize disruption to users. The projects are reviewed to determine whether adjustments in implementation are needed. City of Tulsa and ODOT Division 8 representatives are working to reduce the disruption of moving people, goods, and services in the vicinity of our highway segments.

  • I see money in the package for rebuilding streets, as we’ve been doing. But where is the money for paving, crack sealing, milling and overlay? Is there adequate money in this package for preventive maintenance?
  • There is $72.5 million budgeted for arterial and non-arterial routine and preventive maintenance. Arterial streets received $19.5 million and the non-arterial streets received $53 million. These funds will be used for crack sealing, microsurfacing and overlays with some milling or leveling courses.

    Street work funding needs could be added to the proverbial list of items never satisfied. Some would like the streets "fixed" overnight. There is not enough funding to do so. This funding level is adequate for us to build on progress achieved with Fix Our Streets projects and continue to see impacts on our street network. Our Pavement Condition Index goals for the end of the Improve Our Tulsa program are 64 for arterial streets and 64 for non-arterial streets.

    Regardless of funding levels, our goal is to optimize the pavement condition of our street network and improve as much road area as possible.


Street Projects Under Construction

  • Why is the lane/street closed when no one is working?
  • This situation may have several causes, one of which may be that a new waterline is being tested. The time between a request for a test and the actual test may be seven to 10 working days. Waterline testing takes up to two days – two samples are taken approximately 24 hours apart to ensure that the water is safe to drink.

    Also, some lane- or street closures may be needed for normalization of traffic. Unpredictable openings and re-closings of streets may confuse motorists and could contribute to accidents.

    Other reasons may be that the workers are off site to replenish supplies or equipment or that concrete pavement is curing and needs time without vehicles disturbing the process. A contractor’s crews may not be on a site every day. The City allows contractors to set their own work schedules as long as they meet deadlines for project milestones and completion.

    If you have a question about a street project site where you do not see anyone working, you may call the Customer Care Center at (918) 596-2100.


  • The contractor is blocking the driveway to my home or business. How do I report this problem?
  • Contractors are required to maintain access to a business by at least one entry, which also can serve as an exit. If you notice obstructed access to a business, you may either report it through the City internet site www.cityoftulsa.org/reporting/reporting-problems.aspx or call the Customer Care Center at (918) 596-2100.

    If your home or business is in the project area and you received a notice from the City of Tulsa that provides the name and phone number of the construction inspector and contractor superintendent, you may contact one of those individuals regarding access to your property.


  • How do I report construction signs that impede visibility at an intersection?
  • You may report this through the City of Tulsa internet site www.cityoftulsa.org/reporting/reporting-problems.aspx or call the Customer Care Center at (918) 596-2100.

    If your home or business is in the project area and you received a notice from the City of Tulsa that provides the name and phone number of the construction inspector and contractor superintendent, you may contact one of those individuals.


  • The project looks completed. Why did the contractor leave the signs and barricades up?
  • The project looks completed. Why did the contractor leave the signs and barricades up?

    The contractor could be waiting for delivery of equipment or a shipment of materials. Or the contractor may have to wait for proper weather for asphalt or concrete construction.

    To report a sign that has been left up after a project looks completed, call the Customer Care Center at (918) 596-2100.


  • Why do you start putting barrels in the street so far ahead of the construction area?
  • Construction zones require gradual narrowing for a lane closure. This promotes safety for motorists, who need time to merge into the proper lanes, and for workers in the construction area, who depend on motorists being aware of their presence so close to moving traffic.

  • How about doing work 24 hours a day so projects get done faster?
  • The City of Tulsa evaluates the feasibility of projects for potential 24-hour construction. Considerations include proximity to residential areas and whether the extra costs would provide enough benefits.

    Optional 24-hour construction has both advantages and disadvantages.

    Advantages include reducing project completion times by 25-30 percent, mitigating adverse impacts on adjacent businesses, shortening the overall timeframe for work-zone traffic congestion, and allowing work to occur in larger areas.

    Disadvantages include safety issues for working at night, nighttime work lighting and construction noise disturbing residents either near the site or along the routes to and from the site; higher cost for night-shift workers; higher cost for more city inspectors; lack of access to daytime city workers and businesses such as engineering firms, material suppliers, and public utilities; and restrictions on use of paving materials in colder, nighttime temperatures.


  • My vehicle was damaged when I drove through a construction zone. How do I report this problem?
  • To report damage to your personal property or vehicle, please contact the Customer Care Center at (918) 596-2100. The City will assist you in working with the contractor and its insurance company. Also, please report any hazard that may cause damage.

  • I see standing water in the construction area and am concerned about mosquitoes. How do I report this problem?
  • If you received a notice from the City of Tulsa that provides the name and phone number of the construction inspector and contractor superintendent, you may contact one of those individuals. If you do not have a notice about the project, you may make a report through the City of Tulsa internet site www.cityoftulsa.org/reporting/reporting-problems.aspx or call the Customer Care Center at (918) 596-2100.

  • I received a notice that the street project to start in my neighborhood includes waterline replacement. Will this affect my water service?
  • A waterline replacement involves placing a new waterline next to the old waterline, testing the new line to make sure it is safe for drinking water, transferring service from the old waterline to the new one, and then replacing sod that was removed during construction (if necessary).

    During transfer of water service, customers will be without water on two occasions: for tie-in of the new water main line, and for tie-in of their individual service lines to the main line. These operations take a few hours and are scheduled at times to minimize inconvenience to residents. The contractor will place notices on customers’ front doors at least 24 hours in advance of a water shutoff.

    After replacement of a waterline, customers should run their outside faucet to flush out pipes before using indoor water fixtures.


Taxpayer Impact

  • Does funding for these street projects include a tax increase?
  • Yes and no. Property tax rates will increase during the five-year issuance of General Obligation Bonds to the same level as under the Fix Our Streets program. The current rate of 20 mills per year will increase to 22 mills per year by 2017 or 2018. A mill is $1 per $1,000 of a property's net assessed value. For a $100,000 house, the annual property tax to the City of Tulsa would increase $20 - from $200 to $220. The City of Tulsa receives approximately 16 percent of a homeowner’s total property tax.

    The City of Tulsa’s sales tax rate actually decreased after July 1, 2014 – it is now 3.1 percent, down from 3.167 percent before July 1, 2014.

    The sales tax rate for the city of Tulsa in Tulsa County, however, has remained the same – 8.517 percent – because Tulsa County now collects .067 percent as a public safety tax. On April 1, 2014, Tulsa County voters approved the .067 percent sales tax to build a new juvenile justice center and to expand the Tulsa Jail.


  • How does the city sell bonds and get the money, and what assets does it leverage?
  • The City of Tulsa takes competitive bids from underwriters and selects the one offering the lowest interest cost. No leverage is used. The bonds are secured by a full faith and credit pledge of the City of Tulsa and a pledge of property tax revenue.

  • How is the city currently using Tulsa homeowners’ property taxes?
  • The property tax received by the City is used for payment of General Obligation Bond principal and interest and for judgments issued by a court against the City.

  • Will the property tax increase approved for Improve Our Tulsa supersede the annual 5 percent property tax increase cap?
  • The property tax increase approved for Improve Our Tulsa is an increase in tax rate. The 5 percent limit is a constitutional limit on the increase in property value each year, unless the property is improved or sold.