What is the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority?
The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) is an instrumentality of the State of Oklahoma (the State) and a body corporate and politic created by statute in 1947. The Authority is authorized to construct, maintain, repair and operate turnpike projects at locations authorized by the Legislature of the State of Oklahoma and approved by the State Department of Transportation. The Authority receives revenues from turnpike tolls and a percentage of the turnpike concession sales. The Authority may issue Turnpike Revenue Bonds for the purpose of paying the costs of turnpike projects and Turnpike Revenue Refunding Bonds for the purpose of refunding any bonds of the Authority then outstanding. Turnpike Revenue Bonds are payable solely from the tolls and other revenues of the Authority and do not constitute indebtedness of the State.
The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is similar to a public utility, providing a needed, basic service at a fee that yields a return to its investors. The Authority must generate sufficient revenues to operate and maintain its roads at a high quality while covering the interest and principal payments owed to bondholders (investors) who have purchased its revenue bonds.
OTA (lack of) Oversight
ACCESS Oklahoma Lawsuits
In Oklahoma Supreme Court
Case 120619, OTA Application for Bonds
- 8/10/2022: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority requests the OK Supreme Court validate the issuance of $500,000,000 in bonds for ACCESS Oklahoma Turnpike projects
- 9/14/2022: Oral presentations in front of Supreme Court Referee by OTA, Pike Off OTA, the City of Norman, and other experts/concerned citizens
- 11/8/2022: Supreme Court requests supplemental briefs on 2 issues:
- Whether state statute allows proposed turnpike routes
- Whether issuing a new bond will violate the bond indenture requirements of statute
- 11/28/2022: Oral arguments in front of the Supreme Court Justices by Pike Off OTA, the City of Norman, and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority
- Current status: Awaiting Supreme Court decision
Case SD 120981, Motion for Appeal of District Court Case CV-2022-1905
- 12/28/2023: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority requests that the district court decision in the Open Meeting Act case be appealed
- Current status: OTA requests an appeal be retained for disposition by the Oklahoma Supreme Court
In Cleveland County District Court
Case CV-2022-1692, Legal Validity to Bond & Build Turnpikes
- 5/2/2022: Pike Off OTA and numerous Oklahoma citizens file a petition for relief against the OTA
- 5/23/2022: The petitioners challenge the OTA’s authority to issue bonds for three ACCESS Oklahoma turnpike extension projects due to:
- 12/12/2022: Judge Olsen issues his Decision: “The claims of the Plaintiffs in this case are virtually the same as those set forth in their Protest filed in the Supreme Court […] Obviously in approving the bonds this [Supreme] court must consider and pass upon their validity […] this consideration would involve the same questions now being raised by the plaintiffs in the action in district court
- Current status: Dismissed by district court. The Supreme Court will decide this matter
Case CV-2022-1905, Open Meeting Act Violations
- 5/18/2022: Over 200 citizens accuse the OTA of violating the state’s Open Meeting Act leading up to the February 22 announcement of ACCESS Oklahoma
- 12/1/2022: District Judge Timothy Olsen grants summary judgment on all counts. He rules the OTA willfully misled the public with intentionally vague agendas. This ruling renders all ACCESS Oklahoma contracts invalid
- 1/11/2023: The OTA filed an appeal with the state supreme court to re-decide if the authority did indeed violate the Open Meeting Act
- Current status: Oklahoma citizens won this round in district court. The OTA is appealing at Supreme Court.
Case CV-2023-64, Qui Tam Suit
- 1/9/2023: Qui Tam Suit filed to recover funds unlawfully paid to engineering firms by the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. These payments were unauthorized and contrary to law resulting in gross injustice to Plaintiffs and a useless waste of public funds.
- Current status: in search of a judge