Route 66 News

Cost overruns, late delivery of Route 66 statue irk councilor

An artist's rendering of the "East Meets West" statue.

A Tulsa city councilor expressed dismay Thursday over a large statue at Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza near downtown that is $83,000 over its initial cost and more than two years late, reported the Tulsa World.

The $1.1 million statue, titled “East Meets West,” is funded by the Vision 2025 sales tax.

“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 statue depicts Avery and his family in a Model-T approaching a horse-drawn carriage in which the horses appear surprised. It will be 40 feet long and 14 1/2 feet tall. […]

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.”

According to the report, the council was told that the artist’s health issues delayed the project, and the cost of materials for the statue went up during the delay.

I don’t know whether city officials simply used the term “health issues” or elaborated. The artist, Robert Summers, suffered catastrophic injuries in a fall that required many months to recover. From what I’ve heard, he’s lucky he’s not pushing up daisies.

An increased cost of less than 8 percent isn’t bad in a two-year period, given the usual rate of inflation. Regardless, Bynum is right to be irritated.

Many public-works projects are bonded in the case the work is late or can’t be done. Perhaps the city should have insisted that this project be bonded as well.

The newspaper says the statue may be delivered by August.