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Oklahoma turnpike board greenlights first ACCESS turnpike expansion project

Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz talks about Oklahoma Turnpike Authority priorities during a board meeting Tuesday in Oklahoma City.
Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz talks about Oklahoma Turnpike Authority priorities during a board meeting Tuesday in Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s oversight board gave the green light to the first project that will be built as part of the agency’s planned 15-year, $5 billion toll road expansion and improvement effort, earlier this week.

The board approved spending about $98.5 million to begin widening a 6-mile stretch of the Turner Turnpike between Bristow and State Highway 66 near Heyburn. The funds will also be used to construct a new interchange at State Highway 66.

Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz said the project, which is just east of Bristow, will connect to a previously widened stretch of roadway.

It marks the first concrete step forward for the Turnpike Authority’s keystone project, which had been delayed about a year by lawsuits. Officials have promised the improvements will increase safety, modernize antiquated rural roadways by adding new access points and alleviate congestion in the Oklahoma City metro area.

“Getting that section down to Bristow widened to the full six-lane width is a really red letter day for the Turnpike Authority,” Gatz said. “We’re pretty excited about it. We’re looking forward to getting that work done, and we’ll have six more miles that will be far safer (and) prepared for the future.”

Gatz said the interchange work will construct new entrance and exit ramps in both directions in Creek County.

The project will take about two years to complete and is expected to start in late winter or early spring, officials said.

Turnpike Authority officials have previously said widening the entire turnpike to six lanes between Oklahoma City and Bristow will be done in several phases over 14 years.

Other planned projects include improvements to the John Kilpatrick, Will Rogers and H.E. Bailey turnpikes along with new toll roads around the Oklahoma City metro. Those are designed to alleviate Interstate 35 congestion.

New interchanges are planned along the H.E. Bailey, Indian Nation, Will Rogers, Cimarron and Creek toll roads.

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