Chickasaw Turnpike bill gets OK from Oklahoma governor

| Monday, May 15, 2006

Gov. Brad Henry signed a bill into law May 4 that could lead to large-truck traffic being routed around the city of Sulphur.

Part of the law, formerly SB1368, focuses on a four-mile stretch of the Chickasaw Turnpike running from Oklahoma Highway 7 to U.S. 177. The stretch could soon become free for drivers.

The bill permits the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to take over management of all or part of the 17.3-mile route, which extends south of Ada to Sulphur. It is the only two-lane turnpike in the state.

Shifting the turnpike to ODOT would allow the agency to build entrance and exit ramps at the intersection of Chickasaw Turnpike and U.S. 177.

The on-and-off ramps would ensure large trucks do not have to drive through town. It also would create a non-tolled alternate access ramp giving truckers access around the north side of Sulphur.

“Trucks have no other route to drive besides through town,” Rep. Wes Hilliard, D-Sulphur, said in a written statement. “With the increasing tourist traffic as well as the heavy truck traffic, it is about time that the House does something about this dangerous situation.”

Hilliard, the bill’s House sponsor, said the transfer wouldn’t affect tolls on the turnpike.

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