A High Price for a Shorter Commute

Bison Blinds

As a few hundred more citizens signed an online petition calling for a halt to a proposed turnpike in NE Oklahoma County, some surveyors walked around property near 150th and Dobbs today, in the march toward a $300 million project to connect I-40 to I-44 in four years.

“We are concerned with those living in these areas and we will do our best to avoid as many houses and businesses as possible. We do know though that we will have to take some people’s property,” wrote Jack Damrill, spokesman for the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority today in an email reply to The Luther Register.

Damrill also said the OTA has not released a map outlining the proposed path of the 21-mile stretch, the most expensive of six turnpike projects unveiled at the state capitol just a few weeks ago. “Apparently, some people are saying there is a map that they’ve seen and that is a map from the Turnpike Authority. This is NOT true. If there is a map out there, it has not been authorized by the OTA,” he said.

Some neighbors are concerned about the lack of transparency about the project. Wren Hawthorne and his family have lived in Choctaw for 38 years and says losing the beauty of the quiet agricultural countryside is a high price to pay for a shorter commute.

“My mother and father, sister, niece and nephew, and grandmother will apparently lose their homes if the mysterious x’s are any indication of the new route. This seems more reminiscent of a totalitarian government than the democracy we live in. I am disappointed in the state and the City of Choctaw for not being better communicators about this project,” said Hawthorne.

Damrill said the “x” markings are not necessarily the proposed route.

“Currently, Olsson and Associates is conducting surveillance of land in Eastern Oklahoma County. Those surveying the land are putting big X’s on several areas in numerous spots. Once those are all down, then they will conduct survey’s with these X’s by the air. This is solely to get the topography of the land.”

He also said if landowners are in the area of a new road, they will be contacted individually by someone with the OTA or the company hired to lead this project.

The surveyors were spotted Monday near the Polach place at 150th and Dobbs in Luther. Cara Polach said she and her husband tried to race home but didn’t make it before the surveyors had walked all over their farm and told other family members their markings were for aerial surveillance.

The project does have it’s supporters. No one denies that rush-hour or any hour traffic in the metro can be a nightmare and will get worse with economic growth which is why many of us moved to the country in the first place.

Daniel Lapham moved back to Harrah recently to take care of the family land. He says he is not opposed to a turnpike and a bypass connecting the interstate to the Turner Turnpike is economically viable. But he wonders why they don’t move it over to an existing byway.

“The corridors of Highway 102 or 177 seem to make more sense than the one they are talking about now. A majority of the land out here is family farm land that has been lived on and worked for more than a hundred years. I am all for progress, but when it damages the foundations of our heritage and economic structure, it undermines the potential for sustained growth,” said Lapham.

It’s a conflict as old as our nation itself – making room for progress.

Meanwhile, the online petition to halt the project gathered nearly 1,000 signatures on Monday.

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  1. We Moved to Harrah for the area in the country and the school system for our children. All our children loved being raised where they had access to the forest behind us and all their creatures as well as plenty of area to play soccer and have friends over for a weiner roast. Having a road to stop at 50th provided a safe place to ride bikes or ride sleds when ice came our way. We all love our quiet country community with a produce and flower farmer on the other side of the road. Farmers in our area had provided food and jobs for our children to be a part of the farming comunity here. We love the quiet to hear the birds and animal creatures around us, whether it was the hawk or the eagle or a huge owl that scared us as we entered our gate. This does not list all the animals in our little part of heaven on earth to relax from the highway noise that none of us want here. It is a safe place to raise a family and grandchildren. Please use current roads and not create more mess. Triple x is tore up right now and not usuable, we need this road back for all of us living here to use a brand new bridge. Use the money for the county.

  2. My father and mother moved from Stillwater to Jones (160 acres at Peebly and Wishire) in 1959-1960. My father farmed the land with seven children to feed. Developed a pecan orchard with cracking machines and all. Was well known in all the surrounding communities from choctaw Harrah to Edmond and even as far as Yukon! 2 of my brothers and 2 sisters still live right on the original 160 acres. Daddy is gone now, resting in the pecan grove, my brother is a few steps away, keeping watch on the squirrel and deer.
    We can only stop growth and PROGRESS by our own will! Each of us must understand the other. And when we can’t then let us ask for GOD’S guidance in our decision that we make.

  3. They were marking Luther rd all up and down yesterday for the new toll road my husband stopped and asked and the guy said yes its for the turnpike my husband said for survey the guy just smiled and said um well yeah survey but we live on n harrah rd and if it is going to go down Luther towards dobs and peebly as well thats literally my back yard. Why the heck does it need to be so wide we heard it was going to span 1/2 mile wide that’s just obsessive. We are looking to move before this happens we moved to the country to escape the crime of the city and well now you are bringing the city and its crime to the country. Good luck fighting this yall as we have seen in the past if you fight they still build they steel your land if you refuse to sell and build on it anyway. Then they are going to charge you to use a road that they built on your property the same property that they underpaid you for… is that fair or just ….

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