For the past three years, Sen. Ron Sharp has been working to secure enhanced transportation infrastructure for eastern Oklahoma County. Sharp was at the state Capitol Thursday for the formal announcement that the project would be moving forward as part of an overall plan dubbed “Driving Forward: Investing in Oklahoma’s Future.” The plan includes a total of six large-scale turnpike projects at an estimated cost of $892 million to be constructed with bonds paid for by tolls, including a $300 million project to connect I-40 in eastern Oklahoma County to I-44, the Turner Turnpike.
“The timing of this is crucial because of the additional 3000 jobs coming to Tinker Air Force Base with Boeing,” said Sharp, R-Shawnee. “But this isn’t something that’s just going to benefit the Oklahoma City metro. This will have a major impact on surrounding towns like Jones, Luther, Choctaw and Harrah. Our rural communities in eastern Oklahoma County have long needed this kind of infrastructure development to attract jobs and expand their local economies.”
Sharp said he’s worked closely with Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley, Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) Executive Director Mike Patterson and Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) Executive Director Tim Stewart on this project. In order to accommodate the anticipated increase in larger vehicles, such as semi-trucks moving goods and equipment, the OTA is working to increase the height of the bridge on Hogback Road, between Jones and Luther. New east and west bound ramps will also be included at that location.
At Thursday’s press conference, Gov. Mary Fallin said she was serving in the Legislature when the Kilpatrick Turnpike opened in the northern part of the metro. She said there wasn’t much in the way of businesses or residents. Since then, there’s been dramatic growth. The governor predicted that would be the case with the new projects announced today, including the eastern Oklahoma County spur.
“There will be tremendous economic growth and investment that will come with this,” Fallin said.
“I want to thank Governor Fallin, Secretary Ridley, Mike Patterson and Tim Stewart as well as the Eastern Oklahoma Economic Development District for all they’ve done to make this a reality,” Sharp said. “This transportation infrastructure improvement is critical for ongoing economic development efforts, as well as providing our citizens with the safety and convenience of modern roadways.”