Turnpike Authority Approves Transfer of Funds for Repairs / of Flood Damage

Article excerpt

An emergency transfer exceeding $2.5 million from an Oklahoma Turnpike Authority trust fund was approved Thursday by the authority to help pay for repairs to highways damaged by October floods.

- The authority also committed itself to a $1.6 million project to renovate and expand toll plazas on the Turner Turnpike in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

- In addition, the authority approved its 1987 annual budget of more than $20.86 million.

The transfer of excess funds in the authority's Motor Fuel Tax Trust Fund will be made in December to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. According to state law, the authority must transfer surplus trust funds to the transportation department each year on July 1.

The trust agreement requires that three years of interest on outstanding bonds be kept in the trust fund. That amount ordinarily is around $27 million, based on $186 million in outstanding bonds.

More than $7.18 million was transferred from the trust fund to the transportation department on July 1, 1986.

Gov. George Nigh requested the transfer in October, saying the Oklahoma Transportation Commission was preparing a highway repairs and improvements timetable through the end of the fiscal year.

Nigh told the authority Thursday that the funds would be mixed in with other funds for the highway repairs and improvements, and that it would not be possible to tell the authority at a later date what money went where.

In October, authority members said they wanted to avoid making a routine matter out of the premature transfer of funds. The authority approved the transfer Thursday based strictly on the state of emergency and after having the authority's legal counsel check the legality of the transfer.

- The Oklahoma City toll plaza with the Turner Turnpike will receive about $850,000 in improvements, consisting of a higher canopy, an additional eastbound lane, the addition of a park-and-ride parking lot on the south side of the roadway outside the turnpike gate and additional employee parking.

The Tulsa toll plaza will receive about $750,000 in improvements, consisting of a higher canopy, an additional westbound lane, additional office space and employee parking and emergency parking, and telephones on the south side of the roadway just inside the turnpike gate.

The canopies on both of the 35-year-old toll plazas will be raised from 16 feet to 18 feet for greater visibility and improved dispersal of fumes, said E. …