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Panel moves forward with turnpike expansion plans

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority on Tuesday approved measures designed to move forward with a massive expansion project.

In October, Gov. Mary Fallin and state officials unveiled a $892 million proposal for six bond-financed projects, including three in the Tulsa area. It is called the Driving Forward program.

Roadways involved are the Gilcrease, Muskogee, Turner, H.E. Bailey and Kilpatrick turnpikes, as well as a new Oklahoma City turnpike.

The OTA on Tuesday approved a resolution allowing it to submit an application to the Council of Bond Oversight for the financing turnpike projects and the refinancing of turnpike bonds. The actual dollar amounts would have to be approved by the OTA.

The action signifies the agency’s intent to sell bonds to finance the projects unveiled in October.

In addition, the panel passed a resolution saying it intends to use some of its funds to finance the projects and reimburse itself once the bonds are sold.

The OTA hired Poe and Associates as the program manager for the project at an initial cost of $635,800 to help establish the program schedule and plan and to help define alignments on the new corridors, said Tim Stewart, OTA executive director.

Additional funds are expected to be spent to manage the program, Stewart said.

It approved a $1.8 million contract with Olsson Associates to oversee work and protect the interests of the bond holders.

Pinnacle was selected to provide right-of-way acquisition services for the proposed widening of the Turner Turnpike between Kellyville and Bristow. The contact is for $388,200.

“It is for the first 7-mile segment we are going to construct as part of this program,” Stewart said.

The entire Turner Turnpike project involves 22 miles at a cost of $300 million. The project will allow for the future creation of truck-specific lanes for quick and safe access.

The Muskogee Turnpike project involves reconstruction from the Creek Turnpike interchange to Oklahoma 51 near Coweta. It will cost $42 million and involves 9.5 miles.

The OTA’s portion of the Gilcrease Expressway project will connect West 21st Street North to Edison Street and provide connections to U.S. 412. It will involve 2.5 miles of roadway at a cost of $28 million.

The Kilpatrick Turnpike expansion project in Oklahoma City will cost $190 million and involve 7 miles. It will connect southwest Oklahoma City to the urban core and offer another route to Will Rogers World Airport. It will occur between Interstate 40 and Airport Road.

The new turnpike in Oklahoma City will connect Interstate 40 with the Turner Turnpike. It will cost $300 million and involves 21 miles.

The OTA approved a fee proposal not to exceed $1.45 million to determine traffic counts and revenue estimates for the two new Oklahoma City alignments.

The H.E. Bailey Turnpike project involves 7.5 miles and will cost $32 million. It will provide wider lanes, enhanced safety features and upgraded toll plaza technology between Bridge Creek and North Meridian Avenue near Newcastle.

To view the orginal article in the Tulsa World, click HERE.

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