Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Department of Transportation May Get Piece of Chickasaw Turnpike

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Department of Transportation May Get Piece of Chickasaw Turnpike

Article excerpt

At Monday's meeting of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT), the Transportation Commission embarked on a process that could result in the department taking ownership of about four miles of the Chickasaw Turnpike, which links Sulphur and Ada.

The commission authorized ODOT staff members to begin work on cost/benefit and feasibility studies regarding the transfer of a portion of the turnpike from the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority over to ODOT.

The Chickasaw Turnpike is a 27.1-mile-long, two-lane highway extending from State Highway 7 west of Sulphur to SH 1 near Ada. Only about 17 miles of the highway is tolled, with interchanges at SH 7, U.S. 177 and at Roff. ODOT has agreed to consider a proposal to assume ownership of four miles of the turnpike, from SH 7 to U.S. 177.

"The Department believes this may provide the solution to some traffic issues in downtown Sulphur resulting from increasing truck traffic," reads the agenda item presented to the Transportation Commission at Monday's meeting. Only if the studies show the transfer would be "beneficial to the public, the highway system and the Department, and further that an acceptable tentative agreement can be reached with the Turnpike Authority, the Department will bring back to the Commission the findings of the analysis and the terms of the tentative agreement for your consideration," the agenda reads.

Oklahoma Transportation Secretary Phil Tomlinson - also serves as director of the Turnpike Authority - stressed that the agenda item the Transportation Commission approved Monday is only a preliminary step in the process. Tomlinson encouraged the commission to approve the item.

"This looks like it could be good business for all of us," said Tomlinson.

The Chickasaw Turnpike is unique among turnpikes in that its bond issue specifically allowed for a transfer to ODOT to take place, Tomlinson noted. Both the original bond issue that created the turnpike and subsequent reissues anticipated a possible transfer of the highway. …

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