Turnpike Authority Approves “Right-of-Way Acquisition” Policy

Bison Blinds
The Jan 2016 operations report showed toll revenue at $20 million, a nearly 3% increase from Jan 2015.
The Jan 2016 operations report showed toll revenue at $20 million, a nearly 3% increase from Jan 2015.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority board met today for its regular February meeting. Tucked within the inch-thick formal agenda packet was an item to consider adoption of a “Right-of-Way Acquisition Policy” for the Driving Forward Program.

The OTA calls it “Right-of-Way Acquisition,” but those in the path of some of the new projects, including the $300 million EOC Loop, might call it something else. The four-page document outlines procedures to “accommodate the projected construction” of the bond-funded projects.



“OTA possess neither the dedicated staff nor in-house experience for the anticipated volume of acquisitions by purchase or condemnation of the new required rights-of-way; and the vast majority of the purchases shall be funded from bond revenue and not from current operating budget …

Consequently, these policies shall support OTA’s acquisitions for the Driving Forward Program (and complies with the Federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisitions Act … as embraced in 730 of the Oklahoma Administrative Code.”

The entire document is here: OTA Driving Forward Land Acquisition Policies.

Highlights include:

  • Each separate conveyance shall be independently verified and reviewed prior to initial negotiations
  • OTA will satisfy the mortgage, liens and surface leaders (not mineral rights) and OTA shall secure a clear title.
  • Unless a parcel is worth less than $10,000, documented appraisal reports shall be made before any negotiation. (It’s a case by case deal with the director for parcels valued between $10,000 – $25,000). A separate certified licensed appraiser will be hired. At any time deemed necessary, a second appraisal may be requested only by the Review Appraiser or the OTA Executive Director.
  • Just compensation is defined: the value of the property taken, and in addition, any injury to any part of the property not taken … if only part of a tract is taken, just compensation shall be ascertained by determining the difference between the fair market value of the whole tract and the fair market value of the portion left after the taking.
  • OTA will do its pay-offs with integrity and sound judgement. AND, payments to displaced owners and tenants for relocation benefits may be made as an incentive to settle, but not required at any time time during negotiation or condemnation proceedings.
  • OTA wants to avoid court to save money and time. Sincere attempt to purchase should be made before referring a case to eminent domain (condemnation). No threats or coercion shall be used by OTA’s agent. And the OTA Executive Director gets to approve any changes of amounts to any offer.
  • If OTA takes part of parcel, and the remainder is deemed “uneconomic,” they’ll make an offer to buy that part too.
  • No one talks to the media. “All news releases related to Right of Way acquisition must be approved by the OTA Executive Director before release. Anyone giving an interview or statement for use by news media and acting in the capacity of OTA spokesperson must be accompanied by the OTA Director of Communications and Facilities, or his designee.


The OTA board approved the document unanimously.

Transportation Sec. Gary Ridley visits with residents in the possible path of the new EOC Turnpike before the FEb. OTA meeting.
Transportation Sec. Gary Ridley visits with residents in the possible path of the new EOC Turnpike before the FEb. OTA meeting.

Because Interim OTA Director Neal McCaleb is recovering from surgery, Alan Freeman, assistant executive director for finance and administration, gave the Director’s Report at the meeting. He said the Driving Forward program is progressing and another public hearing for the EOC will occur in a month or so when a possible alignment will be presented and public comments will be accepted..

Meantime, a public hearing for the Kilpatrick Extension will be held at the Mustang Town Hall tonight. OTA Spokesman Jack Damrill might expect a less-heated exchange than last week’s public hearing in Choctaw. “Those people want it and understand. It won’t be like Thursday night,” he said.

Other actions from the meeting included approval to purchase 37 new OHP vehicles to patrol the turnpike system at a cost of $873,397; paying January’s bills that amounted to $15 million and hearing a Highway Patrol report that included news that troopers made nearly 10,000 violator contacts, assisted 1,400 motorists, investigated 74 wrecks with five deaths. There were five drug interdictions on the Muskogee and Will Rogers turnpikes.

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  1. Just reading through – but what if neighbors filed liens in ridiculous amounts on each others’ properties. They could theoretically make it cost prohibitive since the OTA’s own policy states that it will satisfy those liens.

    1. When they first try to purchase the property and there are liens attached that make the property more than fair market value then they will most likely proceed with condemnation. Nice thought though.

  2. It really doesn’t matter anyway. Most will end up in court. I truly expect to be in court with the (what did they call land grabbers in the old western movies)…….LOL

    1. Patsy, if you are a landowner in the path, please get an attorney and rely on their advice. It will save you so much time and money. Old Abe Lincoln said it right, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.”

      1. Thanks Jackie B. I definitely will hire an attorney. Most of us in the path have no knowledge of our rights and responsibilities. Who knew we would ever be facing this? Only the people we trusted and now know better, knew what they had planned. Now because we know whom not to trust we have to protect ourselves with legal representation. I personally am not up dealing with the stress and feelings of helplessness. Well I’m not helpless or hopeless and I will be legally represented. This has been really eye opening. We can’t even trust our own town representatives.

        1. Let me clarify a bit. I think affected people need an attorney or an experienced person that specializes in successfully negotiating with these types of entities. Someone smart and creative that can walk you through how to squeeze every cent out of them. Just reading the above document it reveals that there are several doors that can be opened for added compensation. People just need to know how the game works – so get someone that’s good at the game! I would suggest everyone’s goal should be to successfully negotiate – not litigate! Litigation should absolutely be your last option. If your attorney says otherwise then get a new one! If you go through condemnation proceedings you better have a slam dunk case or else its going to be a nightmare financially and emotionally. You will wish you had just accepted the last best deal. Best of luck.

  3. Take heart! This information above is just the OTA’s side of it and you need to know YOUR side of it as well! We will have very good information for you, so that you are able to protect yourself and stand firm or ask for the fullest extent maximum on anything, say even on a tiny piece of anything you own on the land that they only want. They want you to be uninformed and we won’t have that! We will see you at the community meeting! The OTA will not be involved at this meeting.

    Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 7 p.m. Location: Harrah Church, 101 S. Dobbs (SW corner of Reno & Dobbs).

  4. A Huge thank you to the “Luther Register” and Dawn Shelton for keeping EOC appraised of the newest updates in regard to this Turnpike Travesty when NO other media source has the integrity to do so. Kudos

  5. Is this legal? Don’t they have to follow the rules from the OAG? I don’t think I could trust their hired appraisers. I have 20 producing pecan trees and they are worth a lot to me. I only sold the pecans to family and friends (free to the squirrels and birds) so they didn’t make much money. But I am a tree fanatic. I have black walnut and several other varieties of adult trees. If I have to plant young trees I may not be here to see them as big as the trees I have. I know to some this doesn’t sound important but it is to me. My car tag reads Tree Hugger. I would be heart broken to see them doze all of those beautiful trees.

  6. I will be there at the church on Thursday afternoon at 7:00. I live on Luther Rd. just North of Reno. I am on the East side of Luther Rd. so I guess I property will not be taken. All I will be left with is a great view of a new turnpike and allot of noise, not caused by all the animals that live here with me for the last 23 years. Retired, broke, sad.
    Thanks Dawn for listing to my late morning rant.

  7. We understand it, we just don’t want it!

    They need to actuallt come out here, instead of sitting in their funk of prejudice!

    To ASSume that we are uneducated because we chose a quiet area to reside in beyond my comprehension.

    In terms OTA will understand :
    We ain’t stoopid, we just don’t want nuthin’ to do with ya!

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