Commentary: No new turnpikes needed in Oklahoma

State already has most turnpike miles in nation

September 21, 2023 5:29 am

A street sign marks the interchange of Interstate 40 and the Kilpatrick Turnpike. (Photo by Kyle Phillips/For Oklahoma Voice)

As a former state legislator, I remain active in the affairs of state. 

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) has recently caused a huge outcry as a result of the ACCESS Oklahoma program unveiled by Governor Stitt on February 22, 2022. Hundreds of property owners were kept in the dark as to the plan to construct a turnpike across them.  

This ACCESS Oklahoma plan as labeled by the OTA was in the works in the summer of 2021 and not revealed until February 22, 2022, when the OTA believed it would be too late to challenge it.  

After reviewing the evidence, a district court found that the OTA violated the State’s Open Meeting Act. The OTA does not want an informed citizenry or organized protest. Sadly, our Supreme Court reversed the trial court on a 5-3 decision some believe was poorly written.

Engineering firms, bond lawyers and counselors and road contractors all stand to profit. Many have the ear of the governor and legislative leadership. 

Building more turnpikes in a state that has more turnpike miles than all the others is foolish and designed to further enrich special interests.

The legislative, executive, and judicial branches of Oklahoma government are stacked against the property owners and the state can use its power of eminent domain to seize property from unwilling sellers. 

As a champion of causes for the common Oklahoman, I shall continue to make my voice heard to stop these land grabs to enrich the profiteers and beneficiaries of such practices.


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Bobby Cleveland
Bobby Cleveland

Bobby Cleveland is a former Republican lawmaker who served the Cleveland County area. He’s currently executive director of Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, which advocates for correctional employees.