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Need seen to widen turnpike parts soon

Need seen to widen turnpike parts soon

by: BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau

Thursday, October 29, 2009
10/29/2009 4:51:33 AM

OKLAHOMA CITY — Additional lanes on turnpikes in the state's two largest cities will need to be added soon, an Oklahoma Turnpike Authority official said Wednesday during a meeting of the roads task force.

"We've never had capacity issues with the Oklahoma turnpike system until recently because we historically have been a rural turnpike system," Turnpike Authority Director Phil Tomlinson said.

By 2012, the authority will have to start adding lanes on the original sections of the Creek and Kilpatrick turnpikes, he said.

Tim Stewart, the authority's deputy director, said the original section on Tulsa's Creek Turnpike is from Yale Avenue to Memorial Drive.

The original sections of Oklahoma's Kilpatrick Turnpike are from Lake Hefner Parkway to Western Avenue, he said.

Tomlinson said the expansion would be to six lanes from four.

In 2020, the Turner Turnpike will need to be widened to six lanes from four at its east end from Kellyville to Sapulpa, officials said.

Tomlinson said any expansions would need the authority board's approval.

If the economy improves, he said, the authority might not have to finance all of the Creek and Kilpatrick turnpike expansions with debt but could fund them with cash. That would not apply to a plan to expand the east end of the Turner Turnpike, he said.

Wendy Smith, the authority's director of finance and revenue, said the authority has about $1.1 billion in debt.

Tomlinson said the authority bought enough right-of-way on the inside lanes of the urban turnpikes that it likely would not have trouble with right-of-way acquisition.

The authority's increase of tolls by an average 16 percent in August appears to be generating the anticipated revenue to offset $21 million to $22 million lost in declining revenue from commercial traffic, he said.

Barbara Hoberock (405) 528-2465

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