Parking their cars up and down Dobbs and Reno and filling up the parking lot of Harrah Church, residents who might be in the way of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s proposed new turnpike walked into a dimly lit sanctuary to take their first look at a revised map. Some used flashlights to see the new maps that follow a different path than the route announced just a month ago for the Eastern Oklahoma County toll road. The map was also released online.
For some like Amber Polach, the news brought relief. Back in January, her family’s farm was criss-crossed with marks for turnpike surveyors, and the previous map showed one of the routes possibly going through their land just south of Luther. The new proposal misses the Polach farm. The Luther Register last week hinted that neither the “pink nor the blue” route would be proposed at Thursday’s meeting.
“Our whole family is relieved to find out we are going to keep our farm. Although we are concerned about the ones who really thought they were out of either the pink or the blue, and now find themselves in the route. So it is bittersweet for us,” said Polach who spoke at the January Oklahoma Turnpike Authority meeting.
Engineers, event staff, highway patrol troopers and members of the public relations agency that represents OTA were at the meeting along with hundreds of residents who filed in to look at the map. Engineers answered questions about gas lines, noise pollution, property easements, how “final” this map is, erosion control and the like. But when residents asked questions about the need for the road, and commented about the opposition to it: the engineers had no answers. There were no politicians or elected representatives there to ask
“Im going to continue to let our legislators know that we are not happy. Thankfully we have quite a few who are running for office who will listen,” said Polach.
“Anyone can choose to stand up for the people up there (at the capitol). That’s what they’re supposed to do, represent the people, and there is a large amount of people that are against this,” she said.
The groups opposing the EOC Turnpike are holding a rally Friday, April 15 from 5:30 – 8 pm at Choctaw Creek Park Large Pavilion, 2001 N Harper Road. The event will feature speakers, food trucks and a raffle.
“We are still fighting this huge political machine. It is not over, even though the OTA would like you to believe it is,” said the rally flyer.
Engineers say the new route follows a path of higher ground, and takes fewer “rooftops” than the previous proposals.
The toll road also shows four interchanges: Britton Road, NE 23rd Street, Reno and SE 29th Street. Engineers will take comments on this route as they inch toward the design phase of the $300 million 21-mile project.