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
“The foundations of justice are that no man shall suffer wrong” – Cicero
“You’ve got a great case. How much justice can you afford?” – Attorney Stan Ward
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
- 8/1/2023: Supreme Court Validates Turnpike Authority bonds
In dissenting, Vice Chief Justice Dustin Rowe countered that the majority’s decision confers upon the OTA “incredibly broad discretion without any cognizable limits.”
“The OTA is apparently free to blatantly disregard the Legislature’s directives with respect to routes and funding,” Rowe wrote. “This decision does not simply approve the proposed bonds, it sets a new precedent that future bond applications seeking our approval are merely seeking our rubber stamp — which we freely give today.”
- 8/16/2023: Formal motion requests to disqualify Justice James Winchester and request for en banc consideration of same
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
- 5/31/2023: State Supreme Court overturns the district court ruling that the Turnpike Authority violated the open meetings act. The Supreme Court rules that the lack of notice regarding the announcement of the ACCESS Oklahoma Program at the February 2022 meeting did not violate the Open Meeting Act because the announcement was for informational purposes only.
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 via Case 120619.
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
- 5/31/2023: In Case SD 120981, the State Supreme Court overturned the district court ruling that the Turnpike Authority violated the open meetings act. The district court’s order granting summary judgement in favor of Appellees is reversed and the cause is remanded with instructions for the district court to grant summary judgement in favor of the OTA.
- 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.
- 2/14/2023: assigned/retained by Judge Timothy Olsen.
- 3/1/2023: OTA contractors request Judge Olsen be disqualified or this case transferred to another judge
- 4/14/2023: the engineering defendent’s motion to disqualify Judge Olsen is denied. Judge Olsen retains this case.
- 5/31/2023: Due to the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the Open Meetings case, the Qui Tam suit is effectively ended.