Gov. Brad Henry signed into law a bill that makes a new Oklahoma turnpike one step closer to reality.
Previously HB3220, the new law puts the Gilcrease Expressway in Tulsa on a list of approved toll roads. The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority can now conduct a toll feasibility study for the route. It will look at the economic viability of the project.
With a price tag of about $200 million, the 10-mile stretch of road, commonly called the Gilcrease Extension, would link the Tulsa end of the Turner Turnpike to the L.L. Tisdale Expressway. It would also require a new bridge across the Arkansas River, which is estimated to cost as much as $100 million.
Supporters say the project needs to be completed to promote growth and economic development for Tulsa and the region. Critics say it’s not economically feasible to finish the Gilcrease Expressway.
It’s the position of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association not to categorically oppose so-called “greenfield” projects – new roadways built to add capacity to highway networks – as long as certain conditions are met. The Association does, however, stand against double taxation, diversion and other burdens that toll roads can put on highway users.
The west Tulsa County road is the final phase in an outer Tulsa loop that includes part of the Creek Turnpike, U.S. 169 and completed sections of the Gilcrease Expressway. The road has been on city planning maps for nearly 50 years.
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– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
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