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October 17, 2017

Can’t Stop a Turnpike


“Is it a done deal that we’re going to build it? Absolutely it’s going to happen.”

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OTA Board Chairman “Kell” Kelly and president of Spirit Bank, bottom right, attended the meeting but did not speak.

Oklahoma Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley’s comment brought thunderous jeers at the public hearing Thursday night regarding the controversial Eastern Oklahoma County turnpike loop adjoining Interstate I-40 to the Turner Turnpike (I-44) – a path that could potentially affect some of the hundreds of folks who turned out for the meeting. Even though the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s maps emphasized the turnpike path only spans 300-feet for the actual toll road, it’ll span about 20 miles to link the two major interstates.

The hearing was a mea culpa by the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. Ridley said, “we screwed up,” when apologizing to the overflow crowd regarding the lack of communication about the project.

 

IMG_8676There was a prayer to start the meeting, and the first speaker was Oklahoma Congressman Steve Russell. Like he did at the January OTA meeting, the first-term Republican demanded that OTA prove a public need for the project rather than just push an economic wish. Still, he said he’s ready to possibly lose his quiet rural Choctaw home if it comes to that. It would be for the greater good.

Shawnee State Senator Ron Sharp also got microphone time. See his comments here where he said he’s scared for our state because of the $1 billion state government budget hole that has resulted from the energy slump. So this road would be a boost, especially for Tinker Air Force Base and Boeing which has dumped some of its plans but is still bringing 900 jobs here, he said.

Once public questions were allowed, a Harrah resident asked, “How many people have to show up to prove to you guys … that these people don’t want a turnpike out here?” See the comments here. 

No matter. Ridley and the OTA engineers insist the reason for the road is for a reliever route for Oklahoma City traffic to improve safety and to accommodate anticipated growth.

Other questions included whether the road will be able to handle a major earthquake, whether the push for the road is just for money instead of need, why another road can’t be used and whether landowners will indeed get better than fair market value for their properties, if it comes to that.

There were boos and yelling. But the OTA staff was unflappable. OTA Chairman Skip “Kell” Kelly commented that he was not surprised at the number nor the emotion, noting the meeting didn’t attract many EOC supporters.

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Public comments were shut down to close out the meeting well before 8 pm. Then a brigade of OTA engineers hosted map tables in the lobby where the crowd dispersed. The large new maps highlight the study area – still roughly between Luther Road west to Triple X from I-40 to I-44. Neighbors were asked to mark the maps with information that aerial photos might not have captured such as cemeteries, horse sanctuaries, flood plains or other notables.

IMG_8736Next up. The anti-turnpike group is meeting next week. And the OTA promised another public meeting.

The EOC is a $300 million four-year project, the biggest part of the nearly $1 billion Drive Oklahoma Forward campaign. The road will be paid for with bond sales and through a forecasted 16% hike in the tolls that we will pay to drive on any of the state’s turnpikes, if we choose to drive on them.

 

 

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15 Responses “Can’t Stop a Turnpike”

  1. D D Ferguson
    February 19, 2016 at 1:54 am

    Thank you Dawn. Great job reporting. You need to give that gal who was on the 10:00 KOCO news some journalism lessons. It ain’t over til the fat lady sings. All these major OKC tv reporters give their personal opinion……seriously? Just report. Thanks again.

  2. Tim Lisenbee
    February 19, 2016 at 8:36 am

    I commute every day to work from Midwest City to Wellston. The choice of routes that I can take are often time consuming and dangerous. I would welcome a turnpike that would eliminate those issues each day. I also travel to Tulsa pulling a trailer. Would love a quicker route than back tracking to I 35 to get to I 44 safely.

    • Resident who lives just off Peebly Rd.
      February 23, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      Does the turnpike threaten the land you own? Will you have to accept the offer from the state for your property that you have lived on for the last 15 years and find a new place to live? Tell me where I can live in a 2000 sq. ft home , have an acre of property with a pool , brand new 24X30 workshop for the paltry $150,000 they would offer me. You are an idiot.

    • Paul Kelley
      March 2, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      Use Hwy 177 instead of demanding to take my house for your own use.

      • Resident who lives just off Peebly Rd.
        March 2, 2016 at 6:11 pm

        could not agree with you more!!!!!

    • Lester Dalrymple
      May 12, 2016 at 8:00 pm

      So they should build a turn pike just for the few of you.No one forces you to live far from your work,We chose to live here and the long drive and have no regrets.I also here it was for the thunder ball games easy to get to,also here it is for tinker,It will end up dumping traffic on interstate 40 and 240 which are already congested and just go into a bottle neck.Mary F. must of been promised a lot of money to ok this.
      Lester D

  3. Kim Kolar
    February 19, 2016 at 9:01 am

    My husband works at tafb. A lot of people from Luther work there. It would help us tremendously. We would use it. My son works in Del City. He would use it.

    • Jason
      February 19, 2016 at 2:17 pm

      I live up by Luther and work on Tinker as well, but I wouldn’t use it. You chose where to live just like I did.. I moved there for the peace and quiet, not to have a toll way dropped in my yard.

    • Resident who lives just off Peebly Rd.
      February 23, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      Does the turnpike threaten the land you own? Will you have to accept the offer from the state for your property that you have lived on for the last 15 years and find a new place to live? Tell me where I can live in a 2000 sq. ft home , have an acre of property with a pool , brand new 24X30 workshop for the paltry $150,000 they would offer me. You are an idiot.

    • Patsy Starkey
      February 24, 2016 at 11:35 am

      Hey if you or your employer can all afford the 16 percent increase every time you drive over property stolen from long term residents, go for it. May you and yours experience many flat tires.

  4. Trina
    February 19, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    Thank you for your continuing posts on the Turnpike project. When I arrived 1/2 hr early for last night’s meeting; the parking lot was full & the main room where the OTA & guest speakers sat was also full. There were more people attending,about 750, than seats or space to stand. Again.Also, it seemed to me that the only applause for the pro-turnpike speakers was coming from that same room where the speakers were, not from the “outside” where the rest of us were placed. Hmmm. I also noticed that even though OTA speakers emphasized that eminent domain would not and should not be used for economic purposes, those “citizens” who want the turnpike each cited economic benefit and development as the very reasons they supported it. Interesting. Also, the incomplete stats and maps, and talking points handed out were not as informative as they could have been if the questions we have previously asked had been addressed. We, the opponents, are not satisfied with this vetting process and we are not finished either.

  5. Concerned Citizen
    February 19, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Dawn – did you look at the questions AND the subject matter of the questions that our group presented to you last night, as you were just about to leave? It was titled “14 Turnpike Issues Everyone Needs Answered”? When you can report on THOSE, then you have done a balanced report. Documents as proof to back up the subject matter were attached. The TV stations were given these too (save for Channel 5). We invite you to be the first to check those out and advise the people. Very important matters in these dark times of debt and corruption. Thank you!

  6. Concerned Citizen
    February 19, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    Ms. Shelton – did you look at the questions AND the subject matter of the questions that our group presented to you last night, as you were just about to leave? It was titled “14 Turnpike Issues Everyone Needs Answered”? When you can report on THOSE, then you have done a balanced report. Documents as proof to back up the subject matter were attached. The TV stations were given these too (save for Channel 5). We invite you to be the first to check those out and advise the people. Very important matters in these dark times of debt and corruption. Thank you!

    • February 19, 2016 at 9:08 pm

      Yes. I did look at it … but very quickly as I was hustling to write about the meeting last night and post the videos. But I need to give it more time to read, ponder and follow up – doing that this evening. So thank you so much for commenting here, and thank you for giving the 14 Questions to me. Will you send me an email with your number or your email if I have followup questions? dawnshelton@lutherregister.news. Thanks.

  7. Asheville resident
    February 19, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    If you want to live closer to your work, why don’t you move there instead of insisting that 20 miles of people have to lose the land and homes that in some cases have been in their family for a hundred years?

Have a thought? Please share. And thanks.

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