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

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Green meadow with water running through and trees on either side in Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Meadow Undergoing Major Restoration

Rangeland recently acquired from private owners is being restored to a more natural state thanks to a purchase by the Trust for Public Land.

1 hour ago - San Francisco Chronicle

Large black SYV driving down city street with blurred background.

GAO to Investigate How Vehicle Design Impacts Safety

A lax set of rules around vehicle size, height, and other factors is partly responsible for the alarming rise in pedestrian deaths in the United States.

2 hours ago - Streetsblog USA

Worker in yellow safety suit holding up orange SLOW sign on road

New Orleans Faces $1 Billion Shortfall for FEMA-Funded Roadwork

After years of delays, cost overruns, and deadline extensions on a FEMA-funded street repair program, New Orleans officials face a massive funding shortfall and accusations of mismanagement.

3 hours ago - NOLA.com

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.