Oklahoma Turnpike Expansion Project Challenged by Lawsuits

A recent court ruling could turn the tide against a roadway expansion plan that threatens to displace homes and businesses and that locals say was pushed through with little transparency or community input.

2 minute read

January 18, 2023, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


A planned turnpike expansion project has prompted several lawsuits in Oklahoma, where local residents say the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) acted without transparency when developing the proposal. Asia Mieleszko, writing in Strong Towns, describes the legal battle.

The saga began in 2021, when ODOT announced vague plans for a major long-range infrastructure plan. Then, “On February 22 [2022], the residents of Oklahoma, Cleveland, McClain, Osage, and Tulsa counties were formally, for the first time, introduced to the details of a $5 billion, 15-year turnpike expansion project whose trajectory seemed inevitable and whose route would devastate hundreds of homes, businesses, and natural areas.”

According to Mieleszko, “Named ACCESS Oklahoma, the plan involves widening four existing turnpikes, installing several new alignments, and constructing new access points for those alignments. Aspects of the project require expropriating businesses, homes, and farmland through eminent domain affecting five Oklahoma counties.”

The plaintiffs claim they weren’t given adequate notification about the project’s scope, with some finding out about the proposed route and the potential displacement of their homes or businesses through local newspapers. On December 1, 2022, a county judge “ruled that the OTA “willfully violated” the state’s Open Meetings Act, a decision supported by troubling evidence that emerged throughout the legal process.”

The most recent court ruling sets the project and OTA “back at square one,” with another Supreme Court case also challenging the legality of the venture.

Monday, January 16, 2023 in Strong Towns

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