Oklahoma Turnpike Authority wrapping up expansion projects in OKC
The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s extension of the Turner Turnpike to Interstate 40 is expected to be completed by early 2021, with one portion opening this fall.
The other extension, from the Kilpatrick Turnpike on the southwest side of Oklahoma City is opened to traffic, though some work is still being done at the connection to Highway 152.
“We really hope (the Kilpatrick extension) will be an alternative route for people as they travel to Lawton,” said Jack Damrill, communications director for OTA. “This will help people avoid that I-44 and I-40 interchange, which can get busy during peak travel times.”
Damrill said the Kickapoo extension, which takes travelers from Stroud to I-40 is 75% complete. The new concession Chandler service area, seen along I-44 eastbound is open. Travelers can visit McDonald’s or grab a bite at Back 40. There’s also an EZ Go Convenience store and 125 semi-truck parking spots. There are plans to redo the existing Stroud service plaza, which is now only opened to west-bound travelers.
In total, OTA has spent more than $500 million on expanding turnpikes to make travel easier in the Greater Oklahoma City metro. But it’s not the only state agency investing in the area.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has spent $75 million widening Interstate 40 between I-240 and Peebly Road. The project is expected to finish this summer, though motorists can expect some additional lane closures in July and August as the work finishes.
The transporation department worked with OTA on the Kickapoo extension interchange with I-40, contributing about $16 million to the estimated $44 million interchange with OTA. The state’s Eight-Year-Plan calls for six lanes from I-240 to Shawnee.
OTA is considering adding another project to its plans as well, but it won’t involve building more turnpike lanes. This would be an often-requested technology update.
“We are discussing doing all electronic tolling, which will take the cash machines out,” said Damrill. “We will do that systematically, which could start either as soon as next year. People will need to start preparing for all electronic tolling. The cash rates will increase, so obviously a Pikepass will be the best idea.”
Electronic tolling is popular in the Dallas area, where people get their fees sent to their homes. OTA has been testing the technology at the Peoria/Elm entrance in Tulsa.
“Cash collection is expensive,” Damrill said. “The future is all electronic so touchless tolling is the way we need to do it.”