Osage County District 1 Commissioner Bob Jackson, Osage Nation Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle and former Principal Chief Jim Gray officiated at the Sept. 5, ribbon cutting ceremony for the “Chief Paul Pitts Roadway.”
The ceremony was held at Bird Creek Bridge No. 175, located 4.5 miles west of Wynona. The 10.5 mile road runs past the original allotment of the late Osage Principal Chief Paul Pitts.
“This (ribbon cutting) has a special meaning to me as a former Chief and as a husband,” said Gray. “Chief Pitts was (my wife) Libby’s grandfather. We are very honored to be here today as part of the dedication of this new road.”
Gray explained that as his wife was reviewing some of her grandfather’s documents, she discovered an historical Osage County Commissioner’s record that named the cut-off road between Wynona and Barnsdall after Chief Pitts.
“Over time people had lost track of that document,” said Gray.
After the document was turned over to Osage Nation Transportation Director R.J. Walker, collaboration between the County Commissioners resulted in the road being properly named and signage put up.
“The rest is history,” said Gray. “Chief Red Eagle took over and put this project on the transportation list of improvements. I appreciate you. On behalf of my family, we thank you for making this a priority.”
Chief Red Eagle said the project was turned over to the road department.
“I don’t know if a lot of you have driven this road before it was paved, but it is quite different.” Red Eagle said.
The chief noted when the road was originally dedicated to Chief Pitts in the early 1970s, it was dirt and gravel and took quite a long time to travel.
“Chief Paul Pitts was my uncle,” said Red Eagle. “I remember his lifetime and the dedication he put to the Tribe. I am proud to be a part of dedication honoring Libby’s grandparents.”
Commissioner Bob Jackson thanked everyone for being part of the ceremony.
“We do appreciate the help we get from the Tribe,” said Jackson. “We look forward to the future and continuing to work together. These projects benefit both Osage County and the Osage Nation.”
The Chief Paul Pitts Roadway project (CR 2350) was designed by Guy Engineering Services in Tulsa. The roadway improvement consisted of approximately 11 miles of asphalt overlay and straightening the road near the low-water crossing. The project included construction of three new bridges, one to replace an existing structurally deficient bridge and the other two replaced the low-water crossing.
The Osage Nation funded the $4.9 million construction project. Osage County paid for engineering, right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation expense. The project began in 2012 and was completed August 2013 in coordination with Osage County, the Osage Nation and Becco Contractors, Inc.