Turnpike study bill close to approval in Oklahoma legislature

Proposed $5B Oklahoma turnpike plan to add small-town connections

The fight by some Norman area residents against a proposed turnpike led to a bill in the legislature to force the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to give an updated report on the project.

The bill by Rep. Danny Sterling, R-Tecumseh won approval in the House this week. The measure would give the Legislature authority to modify the authorization for construction or location of the turnpike.

Senate Bill 1610, which was amended by floor substitute, requires the OTAto conduct a study and create a report consisting of certain information in regards to the proposed construction of the South Extension Turnpike, Outer Loop-East-West Connector Turnpike or any part of the turnpike that would pass through any portion of the City of Norman.

“My constituents affected by this proposed turnpike have hundreds of questions that remain unanswered regarding the turnpike’s effect on their homes, neighborhoods, livelihoods, natural resources and way of life,” Sterling said. “This bill, if signed into law, would hopefully answer many of these lingering questions and ultimately grant the Legislature power to modify the location of the proposed turnpike as the Legislature sees appropriate.”

Representative Danny Sterling - Oklahoma House of Representatives

SB1610 specifies the report must contain:

  • Factors considered when determining the route for the turnpike or extensions indicated in the bill;
  • Whether the proposed route was determined to be the most effective regarding the flow of traffic and what factors were considered in making that determination;
  • Specific impacts and effects that the planned route will have on the businesses, citizens and private and public property along the planned route;
  • Whether any alternate routes were considered by OTA and the factors considered as to why the alternate routes were not chosen for the turnpike or extensions; and
  • Any other factors relevant to the decision of the location of the turnpike or extensions mentioned above considered by OTA.

If signed into law, OTA would be required to give two copies of the completed study and report to the Governor, President Pro Tempore of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives at least one year prior to issuing bonds for the construction on the indicated turnpike or extensions.

Additionally, SB1610 codifies that upon receiving the report, the Legislature has the authority to modify the authorization for construction or the location of the turnpike.

SB1610 was amended on the House floor and will be returned to the Senate, where it is authored by Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, for second consideration before being sent to the Governor’s desk.

Source: House release