By Jon Watje
The preliminary route of the Kilpatrick Turnpike expansion was released last week and brought mixed emotions from area residents.
The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) held a public meeting in Mustang on Tuesday, March 29 at Town Center to release the latest maps that showed the preliminary route of the turnpike from where it ends at SW 15th to how it would connect with Airport Road, about a seven mile stretch.
OTA officials said the $190 million project would increase access and offer another route to Will Rogers World Airport.
According to the preliminary map, the turnpike would shift west around Mustang North Middle School. It currently runs on the east side of the school where it stops at SW 15th. After running west of the school, a half-interchange would be placed at SW 15th and another one at Sara Road just north of SW 29th Street. The turnpike would run south just east of Canyon Ridge Intermediate School, cross SW 44th Street before shifting east and crossing S. Morgan Road and S. County Line Road before connecting to Airport Road.
The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority had several maps of the preliminary route on hand at Town Center and local residents packed the facility’s banquet room to get a look at them. OTA had representatives on hand to answer questions from those at the meeting.
Mustang Mayor Jay Adams said he was pleased with the preliminary route of the turnpike and said he wanted to concentrate on improving roads in the city that led to the expanded corridor. The preliminary route comes as close as half-a-mile from Mustang’s northern border.
“With their philosophy of trying to avoid as many rooftops as possible, if you really look at it, it is really the only place it can go,” Adams said. “My main concern for the City of Mustang is to complete Sara Road as a four-lane road from State Highway 152 up to the turnpike. I am glad the Turnpike Authority has offered to go 50 percent construction cost with Mustang and Oklahoma City. Mustang is not going to benefit that much from the turnpike itself, but we can benefit from the access the turnpike can give us.”
In October, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority announced their ‘Driving Forward’ plan, which consists of six large-scale turnpike projects totaling $892 million. Other projects include reconstruction of the HE Bailey, extension of the Northeast Oklahoma County loop, reconstruction of the Muskogee Turnpike, Turner Turnpike safety enhancements and new construction of the Gilcrease Expressway. Because the project is fully paid for by bonds, it will not affect any part of the state budgeting process and revenue will not be diverted from other state priorities, said Gov. Mary Fallin.
“As Oklahoma’s population grows, it will require a greater commitment to modernizing and improving our transportation infrastructure,” Fallin said. “Making these investments today will prevent our state from having to respond to a crisis in the future.”
OTA Executive Director Tim Stewart said the projects outlined in the ‘Driving Forward’ plan address issues that need immediate attention.
“We must make plans now for population and economic growth so we can be in a good position for increased traffic that is going to happen in Oklahoma,” Stewart said. “I know there might be some who would like for us to wait, or just do a little at a time, but the need is now and will become stronger in the future to make our system safer and easier for our customers.”
Next month, OTA will present its final alignment and construction for the project is expected to begin in about a year.