A measure to authorize the future construction of a turnpike north of Luther to connect the Turner Turnpike and I-35 north of Edmond has been assigned to the Senate Transportation committee. HB 4088, authored by Rep. Kevin Wallace, R., Wellston, passed the House earlier this month.
The committee assignment signals an opportunity for citizens to share their comments or concerns about the measure. Committee member contact information is below. The measure adds language for one more toll road, extending north and west to I-35, as part of the statute authorizing the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to build toll roads by acquiring private property (69 O.S. 2021, Section 1705).
If passed, the Luther loop would connect the two highways with a new toll road that would stretch through much of Logan County, in Wallace’s district, that is beset by neglected dirt roads from Waterloo Road to Highway 105. There is no map for the proposed route.
The Senate Transportation Committee is chaired by Sen. Rob Standridge, R., Norman, who successfully added some oversight language to OTA as part of another measure. His bill, SB 1610, passed the Senate Thursday would require environmental studies and other reports to be conducted by OTA for the proposed extension of the Kickapoo Turnpike from I-40 at Newalla through east Norman toward Purcell.
Sen. Standridge’s bill is a floor substitute, taken up one day after a large rally brought hundreds of protestors against the OTA to the State Capitol. “This bill is a measure to ensure the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is doing the studies necessary to make those citizens feel confident that we’ve looked at all the options and OTA has done a thorough study of bypasses and byways.” That bill now goes to the House.
Now that HB 4088 has been assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee, we will watch for the measure to appear on a committee agenda.
Members of the Senate Transportation Committee:
- Sen. Rob Standridge, chair
- Sen. Michael Bergstrom, vice chair
- Sen. Kim David, R
- Sen. Mark Allen, R
- Sen. Bill Coleman, R
- Sen. John Haste, R
- Sen. Kevin Matthews, D
- Sen. Casey Murdock, R
- Sen. Roland Pederson, R
- Sen. George Burns, R
- Sen. Warren Hamilton, R
- Sen. Jo Anna Dossett, D (405) 521-5624
- Sen. Cody Rogers, R
- Sen. Jessica Garvin, R
- (405) 521-5522
Although there is little legislative authority to stop the new projects, observers say Standridge’s bill, plus the upcoming Senate consideration of the Luther loop, could indicate that citizens’ concerns about the OTA are being heard.
At the rally, lawyer Stan Ward told the crowd the new turnpike projects are ill-conceived and a horrible assault on property rights. “A wise man said there is a big difference between reasons that sound good and good sound reasons. This turnpike sounds terrible, and there’s not a sound reason for its existence.”
Others spoke about the impact on land, water, and wildlife, in addition to the upheaval to more than 600 homeowners.
“We need to tell them, No. No. No. Hell No,” said Ward.