Route 66 in the News

Cost Overruns Irksome

2012-02-17 12:59:24

TULSA, Okla. - The creation of a $1.1 million publicly funded statue at the Cyrus Avery Plaza is two years behind schedule and will cost roughly $83,000 more than planned, city councilors were told Thursday.

"This just seems like a classic government boondoggle where the taxpayer ends up paying the price for somebody else's mistake," Councilor G.T. Bynum said.

The Cyrus Avery Plaza, at Southwest Boulevard and Riverside Drive, is part of the city's Route 66 revitalization efforts. Avery is known as the father of the Mother Road.

The statue depicts Avery and his family in a Model-T approaching a horse-drawn carriage with the horses rearing. It will be 44 feet long and 14 1/2 feet tall.

The statue, including delivery and installation, is funded through the city's Vision 2025 sales-tax initiative.

Bynum said he was told last year that the statue was to be installed in May or June, "and we're still waiting on it."

"This thing was supposed to be put in when Mayor (Kathy) Taylor was in office, and Mayor (Dewey) Bartlett is already halfway through his term," he said.

The council was told that the Texas artist, Robert Summers, has had medical problems that delayed the project. The artist had two down periods -- one from illness and the other when he fell off a ladder, City Planner Dennis Whittaker said.

The actual payment to the artist was reduced because of the delay, he said.

The additional $83,000 is to cover the increased cost of commodities and will go only to the foundry, Whittaker said.

Bynum said that "it rubs me the wrong way that the citizens of Tulsa are expected to pay more because commodity prices went up while the artist was taking longer than they were supposed to under the agreement."

"I'm not an artist. ... I just think there's a lot of complexities in this, not to make excuses for the artist," Whittaker said.

Whittaker said the artist has been informed of the city's frustration.

He said the portion of the work by the artist is complete and that he has been paid.

The rest of the work is being completed at a foundry, with a possible delivery date in August, Whittaker said.

Summers has created installations for the Dallas Cowboys, the Dallas Convention Center, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and the John Wayne family after the actor's death, Whittaker said.

The artist is known for detail, and instead of casting the Cyrus Avery statue in one large piece, he created it in many pieces to preserve the details.

Whittaker said this is the artist's first statue of this size, "which was 135 percent actual size."

~P.J. Lassek,


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