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‘Data’ used to select turnpikes included in plan

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority recently approved the $892 million “Driving Forward” plan in an effort to improve state turnpikes.

“All of the projects were data-formed,” said Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley. “The routes have been studied before. We have been looking at these project areas since about 2004. We looked at areas most susceptible to problems of capacity and fatality or personal injury accidents.

“We looked at the Will Rogers Turnpike and The Turner Turnpike and ensured we have a viable system to accommodate future growth, and looked at what we could afford to do. We also looked at the increased traffic numbers, and how the turnpike system can help in providing relief routes.”

The OTA provided recommendations to the governor on what to include in the “Driving Forward” plan. The plan encompasses six different projects.

Northeast Oklahoma’s Will Rogers Turnpike, Indian Nations Turnpike, Creek Turnpike, Cimarron Turnpike, Cherokee Turnpike and Chickasaw Turnpike are not included in the improvement plans.

OTA looked at increasing the Will Rogers Turnpike from four lanes to six lanes south of Claremore, and continues feasibility and cost analysis studies of Will Rogers Turnpike.

Traffic incidents were higher on the Turner Turnpike between Bristow and Tulsa, which is why the Will Rogers Turnpike in Northeast Oklahoma will not be seeing any improvements through the large bond passed for the “Driving Forward” plan.

“We have noted that from Claremore to Tulsa, traffic volumes continue to grow, but other segments of the Turner Turnpike have more traffic. We cannot afford to do all of that, so we are doing the most needed sections first,” said OTA Director Tim Stewart.

Area legislatures were not notified of the plan prior to the project being announced in late October. Both Sen. Marty Quinn and Rep. Mark Lepak contacted ODOT and OTA regarding the plan.

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