Rain or shine, there’s going to be another anti-turnpike rally at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Wednesday, from Noon – 2 pm. Outside if it is not raining. Inside on the first floor if it is.
One of the organizers is Paul Crouch who is fighting the Eastern Oklahoma County Turnpike and spoke at the last rally. (Giving that article another read and a comment would be a good refresher on the issue: http://lutherregister.news/2016/03/17/rally-recap-and-thoughts/). He says there will be several speakers including two current elected representatives: Rep. Richard Morissette, and Rep. Lewis Moore who represents everyone in the EOC turnpike route and recently called for a turnpike moratorium.
Meantime, at the May 2, 2016, Oklahoma Turnpike Authority meeting, operating results were shared for the turnpike during March 2016. Motorists might not like driving on turnpikes, but they are doing it. OTA reported a 7.1% increase in revenues for the March, citing miler weather conditions. And the biggest increases were on the urban toll roads, the Kilpatrick in Oklahoma City with nearly a 14% increase, and the Creek in Tulsa with a nearly 10% hike. All told, the OTA brought in $23 million dollars in March 2016.
For the year, January – March 2016, here are the year-to-date Net Toll Revenues:
- Turner $15,346,210
- Will Rogers $13,168,491
- HE Bailey $6,367,343
- Muskogee $$4,439,367
- Indian Nation $3,439,814
- Cimarron $2,783,054
- Kilpatrick $8,871,655
- Cherokee $1,989,973
- Chickasaw $192,688
- Creek $6,804,166
- TOTAL: $63,392,770
Meanwhile, as the anti-turnpikers rally at the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, there will be less than two weeks for the Legislature to wrangle with its colossally unfortunate budget year before adjournment. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (and the rest of the state government) is keeping its hand out for appropriations to maintain or fix the roads and bridges that are not toll roads. Those holding the rally firmly believe the legislature has the power to stop the Driving Forward program. The name Driving Forward is the public relations spin given to this campaign to build the roads the legislature approved back in the late 1980s, just prior to construction of the Kilpatrick.
Opponents of Driving Forward, turnpikes built through farmland and homes, and indebtedness would have the legislature and accountable elected officials sort out the funding of all transportation issues in the state – from bond debt to motor fuels taxes before moving forward.
OTA officials have said they want to start selling bonds by the end of this year to fund the EOC and other projects.