Sen. Standridge’s bill would require extensive studies on turnpike before bonds can be issued
OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill to slow down a planned turnpike impacting thousands of Norman residents is before the House of Representatives after clearing the Senate. Senate Bill 1610, by Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, was approved by the chamber on Thursday, March 24. The House principal author is Rep. Danny Sterling, R-Tecumseh.
The South Extension Turnpike (east and south of the core city area), which would cost nearly $1 billion and run almost 30 miles, would impact hundreds of homes, businesses and ranches, a wildlife sanctuary, unique geological formations and more, according to a Senate press release from Standridge.
“I’m chair of the Senate Transportation Committee and I was taken by surprise by this, just as the public was,” Standridge said in a press release sent to CapitolBeatOK.com.“My legislation would put the brakes on this project so that we can get more information before anything proceeds.”
S.B. 1610 would require the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) to prepare a report concerning the proposed construction of the South Extension Turnpike and provide that report to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Speaker of the House, and the governor at least 180 days prior to issuing bonds for construction.
Among the information the study would include:
* Whether the proposed route was determined to be the most effective regarding the flow of traffic and what factors were considered in making that determination.
* The specific impact and effect that the planned route would have on businesses, citizens, and private and public property.
* Whether any alternate routes were considered by OTA and the factors considered as to why the alternative routes were not chosen.
* Any other factors relevant to the decision of the location of the South Extension Turnpike by OTA.
S.B. 1610 also states that once the report is received, the Legislature may modify the authorization or location of the South Extension Turnpike. The measure was shifted in the course of recent Senate debate to address widespread scrutiny of the measure in community meetings and interactions of state officials with rural and Norman residents. Senators Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, and Casey Murdock, R-Felt, are co-sponsors.“At this juncture, information is critical,” Standridge said.
The measure garnered overwhelming bipartisan support, sailing through the upper chamber 36-6, with six members not voting.
In the lower chamber, the measure has gained new co-sponsors. GOP Representatives Kenton Patzkoski of Balko and Mark McBride of Norman, along with Rep. Jacob Rosecrats join Rep. Sterling as co-sponsors.
“I look forward to working with our counterparts in the House to get this measure to Governor Stitt for his approval.”
NOTE: Pat McGuigan, publisher and founder of CapitolBeatOK.com, expanded and adapted this story from a legislative press release.