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Bigger turnpike budgets expected for 2020

Bigger turnpike budgets expected for 2020

The Journal Record
By: Steve Metzer
October 23, 2019 

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has approved preliminary budgets for operations and maintenance and capital investments in 2020 that will be 8% higher than budgets for 2019.

Authority members who met in Tulsa on Tuesday for a groundbreaking of the OTA’s new Gilcrease Expressway Extension also approved toll rates for the Southwest John Kilpatrick Turnpike in Oklahoma City. OTA Director of Communications Jack Damrill said the rate for Pikepass holders in two-axle vehicles to travel the length of highway between Interstate 40 and State Highway 152/Airport Road will be 65 cents. The cash rate will be 75 cents.

Damrill said OTA members gave preliminary approval to a $109,522,785 budget for operations and maintenance of the state’s turnpike system in 2020. They also signed off on a proposed $118,396,578 capital budget. They scheduled a final vote on the budgets for Dec. 4.

The O&M budget will cover salaries of some 250 toll takers and other people employed by the OTA as well as routine functions such as snow and ice removal and repairs of signs or guardrails damaged in accidents. The larger capital budget will cover such things as pavement upgrades, bridge rehabilitation and investments in heavy equipment used for roadwork.

Damrill said the 8% increase was needed in large part because of ongoing investments the OTA is making in three new turnpikes. The new Gilcrease Expressway Extension will connect the Tisdale Highway with I-44 on the west side of Tulsa. The 5-mile stretch is expected to relieve congestion during peak travel times especially along Interstate 244 and Highway 97. It’s anticipated the highway will open in November 2022. The Kickapoo Turnpike, which is expected to be finished by late next year, will be a 21-mile stretch that will connect Interstate 40 with Interstate 44 in eastern Oklahoma County. The highway, which also has been called the Eastern Oklahoma Corridor, will allow for faster travel between Tulsa and the east side of the OKC metro and will alleviate congestion in the OKC metro, Damrill said. The 7-mile Kilpatrick Turnpike extension between I-40 and SH-152 will connect southwestern Oklahoma City to the urban core and provide a better route for many to the Will Rogers World Airport... FULL ARTICLE

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