Luther, October 13, 2020—The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority released a virtual ribbon cutting video to announce the opening of the Kickapoo Turnpike on October 13, 2020.
The video features politicians, elected and appointed leaders at the state and local levels and others, including Coaches Pat Jones and Barry Switzer, to praise the 21-mile toll road. It was noted that the landowners in the area who either sold some of the 2200 acres OTA acquired for the turnpike, reside near it, or commute on the construction damaged roads that lead up to it, were not acknowledged.
The new toll road is open for travelers from I-44 (Turner Turnpike) to Highway 62 (23rd Street). The rest of it to I-40 is expected to open in 2021.
Update, Luther Register received an updated link from Driving Forward to view the virtual ribbon cutting. Watch here.
The following is from a Driving Forward News Release
Driving Forward News Release—“The completion of this portion of the turnpike represents our effort and determination to make Oklahoma a Top Ten state in all areas,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said. “As more people decide to make Oklahoma their home, we are building an infrastructure that can support every Oklahoman – resident or visitor – and the opening of this portion of the Kickapoo Turnpike is an achievement towards that need.”
Gov. Stitt, Kickapoo Chairman David Pacheco Jr., Sen. Ron Sharp, Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and representatives from Oklahoma City, Harrah, Choctaw, Luther and more are few of the many figures who spoke at this virtual ceremony.
“The Kickapoo Tribe is humbled to have the new turnpike in our name,” Pacheco Jr. said. “We are honored to join a list of turnpikes honoring other Oklahoma Native American tribes including the Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek and Muskogee turnpikes, and we are excited for what this ribbon cutting signifies for the state of Oklahoma.”
The Kickapoo Turnpike is one of six individual projects within the Driving Forward program announced in October 2015. The 21-mile connection between I-40 and I-44/Turner Turnpike helps eliminate a portion of Oklahoma City’s traffic congestion. It also improves travel from Oklahoma City and Tulsa, allowing Oklahomans to arrive safely to their destinations. The Turnpike was built at a total cost of $453 million.
“Our number one priority has been to improve the safety and security of travelers,” Gatz said. “This turnpike goes far and beyond laying concrete and installing traffic signs. It signifies a safe, convenient route to travel between Oklahoma’s two largest cities, empowering Oklahomans to thrive.”
The Driving Forward initiative is a total of six large-scale corridors to modernize, enhance and improve safety, reduce congestion and support population growth on the turnpike system. To date, three of the projects have been completed with three others currently under construction. The Driving Forward initiative’s number one priority is to improve the safety and security of travelers. When completed, these corridors will create safer Oklahoma roadways by addressing current weaknesses and providing solutions to achieve less congestion.
“A safe and reliable transportation system is essential to economic growth and job creation,” Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat said. “The Kilpatrick Turnpike has spurred economic growth and development in northwest Oklahoma City for years since its completion. Eastern Oklahoma County should be excited and expectant for the economic activity and investment that is sure to come.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives Charles McCall also noted the importance of improving Oklahoma’s roadways.
“Transportation has been a top priority for many years in the Oklahoma House of Representatives,” Speaker McCall said. “It is our job as Oklahomans to create safer turnpikes by addressing current weaknesses and providing solutions to achieve less congestion. We have made great progress, and the House will continue working to improve our roadways to keep Oklahomans, who travel on them each and every day, safe while traveling.”