Committee Passes Bill for Two-Lane Turnpike

Article excerpt

A bill that would make a proposed two-lane turnpike a free road was approved Thursday by the Oklahoma House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. It next goes to a vote of the full House.

The committee substitute for House Bill 1044, authored by House Speaker Jim Barker, D-Muskogee, would allow the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to enter into a lease-purchase agreement with the Department of Transportation.

The authority's maximum annual payment for use of the free road would be less than $500,000, Barker told the committee. The lease-purchase arrangement would free up $43.8 million to allow the state to build a free road, he said.

The authority would have to conduct a study to determine whether it would be more feasible to construct a road from Davis, in south central Oklahoma to Ada and on to the vicinity of the junction of State Highway 48 and Interstate 40, near Okemah, or to the Henryetta area.

Two other feasibility studies have shown that a four-lane turnpike from Davis to Henryetta would not be supported by projected traffic and toll revenues.

The Legislature is bound by a law passed in 1987 that required construction of a four-lane turnpike from Davis northeasterly past Ada to Henryetta or the junction of the two highways.

A battle royale has raged over the two-lane, four-lane, free road or toll road discussion since late 1988, when the turnpike authority decided to scale back original plans to two lanes. …

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