NOT A RUMOR: The Turnpike North of Luther

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State Rep. Kevin Wallace said it might not happen for 15 years, but his bill to greenlight a north toll road connecting the Turner Turnpike to I-35 is making its way through the legislative process. The bill seeks to amend the Act that authorizes Oklahoma Turnpike Authority projects (69 O.S. 2021, Section 1705) to include a route from the Turner Turnpike “extending north and west to I-35.

Seems that language wasn’t included back in the 1980s with all of the other projects including the recently announced Access Oklahoma project. According to Rep. Wallace, the portion is needed to complete an outer toll road loop around Oklahoma City.

If passed, the north route likely would be constructed through Wallace’s district although it is unknown yet where. It could be east of Luther, perhaps near the county line between Oklahoma and Lincoln Counties, taking a path through rural Logan County where the dirt roads are notoriously in poor condition, and curving to I-35 somewhere between Edmond and Guthrie.

Rep. Kevin Wallace, R, Wellston

The Wellston Republican said he filed his proposed turnpike amendment, HB 4088, in December because the OTA did not have statutory authority for this particular project. Around the same time, the OTA approved its statutory Access Oklahoma proposal that would extend the Kickapoo Turnpike south and west, and widen the Turner Turnpike, among other projects.

“The OTA has had the authorization to go south and west for 35 years. It should be no surprise to anyone in this body or anyone in the state that the OTA was going to do that,” said Rep. Wallace during a debate on the bill at the March 7 house session.

However, State Rep. Merelyn Bell said she was surprised. She also said she would have been six years old when those laws were passed that would lead to the announcement of a toll road coming through the middle of the east Norman district she now represents. “If OTA or ODOT had reached out, the public response would have surely given them pause. I don’t think it’s fair to call it a response, it’s been an outcry.”

RALLY: “GO AWAY OTA” | State Capitol | Noon | Wed., March 23.

A couple of other legislators spoke against the bill, but Wallace had the last word before the vote. “I’m delighted to have given a platform for everyone to vent on something that was granted 35 years ago … at the end of the day, infrastructure and development will happen. The loop will be needed.”

He asked House members to approve the six-word amendment.

The bill passed and will be considered by the State Senate. The Luther Register is monitoring the legislative calendar to look for the bill on the Senate schedule.

March 7 house vote on HB 4088.

Wallace said to avoid uncertainty, he recommends the OTA announce a north map where the toll road might one day be built.

“When the Kickapoo was completed connecting I-40 and I-44, some were displaced. Some bought property in Lincoln County in my house district. With infrastructure and development, there will be growth. I foresee a time that loop will need to be completed. It’s wise to plan for the future and acquire the right-of-way before we decide to break ground and construct.”

“The Turnpike authority is always very fair and generous,” said Wallace who is chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. The Senate author of the bill is his counterpart on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Roger Thompson.

Read also: What You Need to Know About Eminent Domain.

This story was updated to clarify and include bill language. A copy of the Act is included below.

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  1. “The Turnpike Authority is always very fair and generous?” REALLY? While they’re strong-arming you out of your home and off of your land for a road wanted only by a bunch of anonymous investors who’re somehow making money hand-over-fist on “private roads” while the public’s roads, managed by exactly the same set of comic thugs, lose money like a house-afire (to the tune of a claimed “$60 billion in unfunded highway maintenance requirement” – which is actually probably more like $600 billion.

    The whole business is a complete joke.

    This rocket-scientist “Honorable Wallace” is CHAIR of HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS – and KNOWS full well that state government has NEVER in its history publicly established, via a certified Highway Cost Allocation Study, what each class of vehicles using the PUBLIC’S roads now pays vs what SHOULD be paid. That means that both the legislature AND ODOT have consistently and methodically mismanaged the state’s public roads, failing to protect them from misuse by heavy commercial operators, while proving that they KNOW exactly what ought to be paid from what is charged on the turnpikes. And he’s “reassuring us all” that “the Turnpike Authority” – also “directed” by another rocket-scientist, a landscape architect named Tim Gatz, the same guy who runs ODOT – “is always very fair and generous?

    It’s a bold, outrageous lie, on its face.

  2. “very fair and generous”? Then why did a jury grant one family $155,000 MORE than OTA paid them when they took their house by eminent domain for the Kickapoo Turnpike? Doesn’t seem like the jury thought they were “very fair and generous”!

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