Norman Lawmakers Push Back Against Plans For Turnpike Expansion

Multiple state lawmakers from Norman either questioned or outright opposed a recently publicized plan by the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to build new highways through the city in Cleveland County.  

Monday, March 7th 2022, 10:39 pm



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Multiple state lawmakers from Norman either questioned or outright opposed a recently publicized plan by the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to build new highways through the city in Cleveland County.  

The OTA’s plan, dubbed ACCESS Oklahoma, would build two highways through Norman.  

Related: $5 Billion ACCESS Oklahoma Plan Aims To Improve Traffic Statewide 

Norman Rep. Merleyn Bell on Monday attempted to stop the construction of the highways with a single legislative move.  

Bell, a Democrat, proposed an amendment to HB4088, a bill regarding the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and unrelated to ACCESS Oklahoma, that would have stripped the OTA of its authority to expand into Norman.  

“This closed-door decision-making process is unacceptable,” Bell said. The amendment failed to pass.  

“This was a deliberate attempt to stop it,” said Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, a fellow Democrat from Norman.  

Norman Sen. Mary Boren said she is welcoming a group of people to the capitol on March 23 to protest the OTA plan, which is expected to disrupt hundreds of private properties.  

Related: Norman Residents Strongly Oppose Turnpike Expansion Plan In Tense Town Hall Meeting 

Boren said the public outcry from the plan has been intense. “I wouldn’t say that I am organizing a rally, but I can say that I am welcoming a rally,” she said.  

Boren and Rosecrants said they are concerned with the impact on potentially hundreds of private property owners, who would have to sell their property if it runs through their land. 

“This plan should not be implemented,” Boren said. “It is flawed, it has a lot of controversial and unsubstantiated data and assumptions supporting it.” 

Senator and Majority Whip Rob Standridge said he plans to use “my position and my seniority” to “slow down the conversation” on construction to review threats to private property owners and environmental factors. 

“Is there not a better choice? Did we really look at its impact on citizens, communities? Did we displace an inordinate number of people when we could have chosen a different route that did not?” Standridge said on a phone call. 

A spokesperson for the OTA said the exact placement of the turnpikes, which are slated to run through northern and eastern Norman. 

“We have yet to begin the design phase to determine impact. What is shown on the website is broad and not definitive. We aim to further reduce impact as the process unfolds,” the OTA said. 

Tiffany Martinez Vrska, the chief communications officer for the city of Norman said Mayor Breea Clark “has discussed with the city attorney drafting a letter to the OTA that would request delay of moving forward with the turnpike project until environmental studies can be done.” 


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