Court gives turnpike projects green light

The Oklahoma Supreme Court gave a thumbs up Tuesday to the turnpike authority to move forward on $480 million of turnpike projects in the state.

The court unanimously declared the authority’s proposed bond issue was properly authorized after being challenged by an Oklahoma City attorney.

The OTA is seeking issuance of bond issues to complete numerous turnpike projects, including extending the Kilpatrick Turnpike, which currently ends at SW 15th Street just west of Sara Road, seven miles to Airport Road.

With the legal hurdle removed, Jack Damrill of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority said Wednesday, “We will begin to put a bond financing plan together with the hope of going to the bond market by mid-January.”

In order to pay for the projects, the OTA will increase tolls. Damrill said the system-wide increase will go into effect Feb. 1. The initial 12 percent increase will be followed by a 2.5 percent increase Jan. 1, 2018, and an another 2.5 increase on July 1, 2019.

Damrill said construction could begin by late 2017 or early 2018 for the Kilpatrick extension project.

“We appreciate the work of the Oklahoma Supreme Court and the timely decision today. We will begin to put into place a detailed bond financing plan so we can continue with the delivery of Governor Fallin’s Driving Forward program,” said OTA Director Tim Gatz. “These important transportation investments will provide relief opportunities for rapidly developing congestion in the metropolitan areas of Tulsa and Oklahoma City, modernize additional segments of the turnpike network and create a safer overall travel experience for the future of our state.  It is the anticipation of The Authority to be in the bond market by mid-January.”

For more information on the turnpike projects, visit www.drivingforwardok.com.

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