Oklahoma bill would delay planned turnpike extension

May 9, 2022

Keith Goble

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The Oklahoma Legislature is nearing passage of a bill to delay construction of the planned South Extension Turnpike in Cleveland County.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority announced earlier this year that it would expand the turnpike system to include two new toll roads in Norman. The nearly 30-mile extension has a price tag of about $1 billion.

Bonds would be used to cover costs.

The decision was met with resistance because of concern about the effect on residents, natural resources and wildlife.

More discussion necessary

Sponsored by Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, the bill would require the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to conduct environmental impact studies.

“My legislation would put the brakes on this project so that we can get more information before anything proceeds,” Standridge said in a news release.

The expansion plan could not move forward until the turnpike authority completes additional studies on how affected homes and businesses could be impacted.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority would also be required to report to the state legislature information gathered from the study at least 180 days prior to issuing construction bonds.

Additionally, the legislature would be authorized to modify the authorization or location of the South Extension Turnpike.

The Senate voted in March to advance the bill to the House. House lawmakers voted late last month to approve the bill with a change that would cover a portion of Indian Hills Road.

“My constituents affected by this proposed turnpike have hundreds of questions that remain unanswered regarding the turnpike’s effect on their homes, neighborhoods, natural resources, and way of life,” stated Rep. Danny Sterling, R-Tecumseh.

Sterling is the bill’s House sponsor.

“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.”

SB1610 has since moved to a conference committee made up of select Senate and House members to work out differences. If an agreement is reached, both chambers must agree to changes before it can head to the governor’s desk. LL

More Land Line coverage of news from Oklahoma.

 

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Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.