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Oklahoma turnpike fees to rise

Oklahoma turnpike fees to rise

Tulsa World

by: BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
7/15/2009 2:02:07 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY - Turnpike tolls will increase an average of 16 percent effective Aug. 4.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority on Wednesday approved the tolls, citing a decrease in revenue generated from commercial traffic.

The last toll increase was in 2001, when fares for passenger vehicles rose by 16 percent and 30 percent for commercial vehicles.

The Aug. 4 toll increase applies to commercial and passenger vehicles.

Kellie Glass of Yukon asked the OTA to delay the increase until the economy improved.

She said she takes a toll road to and from work each day.

As a result of the toll increase, she will turn in her PikePass, she said. The OTA will lose money as a result of the toll increase, Glass said.

The OTA expects some reductions in traffic as a result of the toll increase, said Christopher Mwalwanda, of WilburSmith Associates, which prepared a detailed assessment for the OTA.

He said passenger vehicles that left due to the increase will return to toll roads in one to two years. Trucks will return in four to five years, Mwalwanda said.

Mwalwanda said the system would lose more traffic if the increase were higher.

He said the increase is well below what other states are seeing, which includes hikes for 25 percent to 50 percent.

Phil Tomlinson, OTA director, said the increase was necessary for capital and maintenance needs, among other reasons.

About 50 percent of the system's revenues come from out-of-state users, Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson said there has not been a diversion of revenue from the OTA to support other systems of government.

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