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Home » In the Media

A Sampling of Pike Off OTA Related News Coverage

April 2024

An Oklahoma family has been awarded a huge compensation by a jury after they were forced out of their home to make way for the Kickapoo Turnpike. The family did not believe they were offered a fair deal, and an Oklahoma jury unanimously agreed.

March 2024

Former Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz visits with Gov. Kevin Stitt and turnpike authority deputy director Joe Echelle during a groundbreaking Thursday for widening of the Turner Turnpike, the first ACCESS Oklahoma project.
Former Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz visits with Go. Kevin Stitt and turnpike authority deputy director Joe Echelle.

Amy Cerato, president of Oklahomans for Responsible Transportation, was not surprised Drummond upheld the constitutionality of HB 2263, which her group helped author. 
[…]
Cerato said her group has not given up the fight against ACCESS Oklahoma, but regardless of the outcome, they are committed to reforming the turnpike authority and ending what they see as an agency unaccountable to lawmakers and their constituents. Ending Gatz’s power over all of the state’s transportation entities was a part of that effort.

Februrary 2024

KOCO by Andy Weber Feb 28, 2024
AG opinion says Transportation Secretary Tim Gatz can’t hold dual offices

Can a state official hold more than one office? In the case of Transportation Secretary Tim Gatz, Oklahoma’s attorney general said he can’t.

In addition to his secretary title, Gatz was also the executive director for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. An opinion released Wednesday from Attorney General Gentner Drummond said anyone holding dual offices is breaking the law.

January 2024

Fox25 by Colleen Wilson  Jan 18, 2024
New bill would give legislature and local residents control over turnpike placements

In the bill, the legislature, not the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, would have “sole discretion to authorize and determine the location and overall route of a toll turnpike” in the state.

December 2023

Fox 25 by Tom Ferguson Dec 11, 2023
‘Makes every action taken by the board questionable’: Is an OTA board member serving after his term expired?

Oklahoma Voice by Carmen Forman Dec 4, 2023
Oklahoma governor’s monopoly on turnpike board to end but changes may take time


Sterling said he worked on the bill in conjunction with members of Pike Off OTA, a group that has been critical of the Turnpike Authority’s ACCESS toll road expansion plan.

October 2023

September 2023

Fox 25 by Katie Arata Sept 11, 2023
Oklahoma council approves $500 million bond for ACCESS Oklahoma project despite public protests

“The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority continues to be out of compliance with their statute and their master Trust Agreement,” said Pike Off OTA President, Dr. Amy Cerato, “For example, they typically sell bonds way above par, which is not allowed by the state and the state treasurer should have caught up on that today.”

August 2023

Z94 by Kelso Aug 25, 2023
This is Why Oklahoma Turnpikes Still Cost Toll Money

The Oklahoman by Cheyenne Derksen  Aug 25, 2023
Oklahoma legislator tied to HB 1775, Tulsa controversy won’t seek another term

KOCO5 by Andy Weber Aug 25, 2023
Should Oklahoma Supreme Court justice be disqualified from OTA battle?

The attorney who filed it says Winchester had an “obvious and insurmountable” conflict of interest. The documents pointed to Winchester’s wife, who works for the state Chamber as a lobbyist and allegedly has been at the heart of the Chamber’s 10-year plan to expand the turnpike system.

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer Aug 23, 2023
Oklahoma Supreme Court: No conflict; Justice Winchester can continue to hear OTA cases

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Aug 16, 2023
Local attorney asks justice to recuse, claims conflict of interest with wife, friends of turnpikes

Local attorney Stan Ward file a motion to recuse Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice James Winchester, citing a string of accusations that personal connections to supporters of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s newest plans preclude him from being objective in a lawsuit.

Screenshot of court document titled Formal motion to disqualfiy Justice James Winchester and request for en banc consideration of same
A spray painted wooden sign reads "The fight is not over stop OTA"

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Aug 1, 2023
‘Keep up the fight,’ Pike Off OTA reacts to Supreme Court ruling

Dissenters agreed with plaintiffs that the South Extension turnpike could not be considered defined in the language of state law authorizing turnpike projects, but the ruling opinion stated it was not the high court’s role to decide where to build turnpikes.

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer Aug 1, 2023
ACCESS Oklahoma toll road plan given a green light by Oklahoma Supreme Court

Winchester, whose wife, Susan Winchester, is a Cabinet secretary under Gov. Kevin Stitt, a proponent of ACCESS Oklahoma, wrote the lead opinion to validate the bonds. Winchester previously led in overturning a district court ruling that concluded turnpike officials willfully violated the Oklahoma Open Meetings Act. Winchester also wrote the lead opinion in the validation for the authority’s prior expansion plan, Driving Forward.

OU Daily by Teegan Smith Aug 1, 2023
Oklahoma Supreme Court moves ACCESS Oklahoma forward

Journal Record by Jeff Elkins Aug 1, 2023
Court ruling allows $5B turnpike expansion plan to move forward

Nondoc by Michael McNutt Aug 1, 2023
Supreme Court validates Turnpike Authority bonds for expansion project

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.”

July 2023

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer July 28, 2023
Turnpike authority warned efforts to block public comment ‘rife for abuse’

Cerato said the turnpike authority’s latest rules make it difficult if not impossible for citizens to voice concerns or complaints to the turnpike authority board. 

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood July 16, 2023
On a road to ‘who knows where’ : Attorneys urge high court to deny OTA’s turnpike plans

June 2023

Nondoc by Michael McNutt June 16, 2023
If court validates bonds, Turnpike Authority to resume talks with federal agency on south extension

Amy Cerato, another volunteer with Oklahomans for Responsible Transportation, said OTA’s filing shows it believes the Turnpike Authority is accountable to no one but itself.

“They base their entire argument on the false claim that they have had legislative authorization to build the southern extension since 1993,” she said in a statement. “If that was the case, they would not have run two failed bills (HB 1459 and SB 371) in the 1999 legislative session to add ‘in the vicinity of Purcell’ in an effort to change the law. It is our continued belief that the OTA lacks legal authorization to build not only the Southern Extension, but also the east-west and tri-city connector. We anticipate the Supreme Court will agree.”

The Bond Buyer by Karen Pierog June 15, 2023
Oklahoma Turnpike says it can change route for bond-financed extension

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer June 15, 2023
Turnpike officials say they can seek new route with feds after getting bond sale approval

Two signs - one handmade reading No OTA Turnpikes. The second sign says Pike Off OTA and No Turnpikes

CNHI News by Janelle Stecklein June 2, 2023
Litigation, controversy stall Oklahoma turnpike improvement plans

the push for the suburban toll roads is “actually undermining real, authentic transportation access through all of Oklahoma.”

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood June 2, 2023
Anti-turnpike crowd pins hopes on separate lawsuit, state audit

May 2023

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer May 31, 2023
State Supreme Court overturns ruling that turnpike authority violated open meetings act

In a split 5-3 vote, the Supreme Court ruling concluded the unveiling of ACCESS Oklahoma at the authority’s February 2022 meeting was a presentation and not an action item requiring advance notice on the meeting agenda.

The Bond Buyer by Karen Pierog May 30, 2023
Lawmakers override veto of bill targeting Oklahoma Turnpike board

KFOR by K. Querry-Thompson May 26, 2023
Lawmakers override veto to split power to appoint OTA board

OU Daily by Peggy Dodd May 26, 2023
Oklahoma Legislature overrides 13 session vetoes

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer May 24, 2023
Oklahoma Supreme Court dismisses effort for ACCESS Oklahoma injunction

“It doesn’t cause me any particular concern,” Norman said. “It’s a procedural ruling, not a ruling on the merits, as the opinion made clear.”

The turnpike authority released a statement agreeing with Norman, saying the decision does not change the uncertainty surrounding when it might be able to sell bonds and that ACCESS Oklahoma remains on hold.

April 2023

A road closed construction sign serves as a metaphor for the future of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority's ACCESS plan

Engineering News Record by Daniel Tyson Apr 28, 2023
Okla. $15B Turnpike Job Halted After Court Ruling, AG Audit

The future of the $15 billion ACCESS Oklahoma project to improve and widen the state’s turnpike system might not be straight. Legal action and a state audit caused the OTA to suspended the 15-year project. 

Streets Blog USA by Asia Mieleszko Apr 21, 2023
Oklahoma Turnpike Authority Stops Work on $15 Billion Turnpike Expansion

The community has come together and has fought off the biggest bully in the state.

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer Apr 19, 2023
ACCESS Oklahoma opponents claim turnpike system at risk of insolvency

KFOR by Nick Camper Apr 18, 2023
Norman residents against turnpike expansion say financial mismanagement is to blame for OTA’s delayed project

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Apr 17, 2023
OTA contractors ask judge to recuse from turnpike lawsuit

[Judge] Olsen did not indulge the contractors’ accusation of partiality other than to echo a rule which promised “nothing less than the cold neutrality of an impartial judge.”

The Bond Buyer by Karen Pierog Apr 12, 2023
With bond market access in question, Oklahoma Turnpike work to stop

NonDoc by Tres Savage Apr 11, 2023
Opponents ‘ecstatic’ as Turnpike Authority pauses ACCESS Oklahoma expansion plan

“The community has come together and has fought off the biggest bully in the state, and I think this is the first time in 70 years that the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has ever lost or had to stop a proposed turnpike after they have already paid to have it designed”

March 2023

Strong Towns by Asia Mieleszko Mar 30, 2023
Attorney General Demands Transparency From Oklahoma Turnpike Authority

With regards to the attorney general’s request for an audit, Ward and his co-counsel are optimistic it will “ferret out the truth of what appears to be an empire of crony capitalism, secrecy and mismanagement.”

Claremore Daily Progress by Janelle Stecklein Mar 28, 2023
Capitol calls for more transparency, accountability from OTA

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Mar 28, 2023
Qui Tam lawsuit finds OTA receives tax dollars

Fox 23 News by Spencer Humphrey Mar 28, 2023
EXCLUSIVE: Drummond says FOX23 Investigation, judge’s ruling key in call for OTA audit

OU Daily by Maddy Keyes Mar 27, 2023
Normanites call for transparency from Oklahoma Turnpike Authority at Oklahoma Capitol

Fox 25 by Miranda Vondale Foster Mar 22, 2023
OTA protestors gather outside of OKC Chamber of Commerce

Pike Off OTA Leaders, Legislators, and Legal experts stand at a podium displaying an "Oklahomans for Responsible Transportation" sign
OK AG Gentner Drummond calls for audit of Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA)

The Bond Buyer by Karen Pierog Mar 16, 2023
Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to undergo investigative audit

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority faces further scrutiny after the state attorney general ordered an investigative audit of the agency as it waits for a court ruling on the validity of bonds to start funding a $5 billion extension project.
The audit is needed to determine whether OTA is in compliance with the law, state Attorney General Gentner Drummond said in a letter Wednesday to State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd.
Drummond cited concerns he heard from lawmakers, state employees, and others about “improper transfers between the OTA and the Department of Transportation; improper contracting and purchasing practices; and inadequate internal financial controls.”
He also pointed to a December district court ruling that found OTA “willfully” violated the Open Meeting Act.
“Such a blatant disregard for openness and transparency suggests to me a willingness to engage in any manner of unlawful conduct,” Drummond said in the letter.

February 2023

The Bond Buyer by Karen Pierog Feb 21, 2023
Bill barrage in Oklahoma Legislature seeks to rein in turnpike authority

KOCO by Alyse Jones Feb 13, 2023
How would OTA acquire homes in path of planned roads?

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer Feb 10, 2023
Oklahoma lawmaker was paid $100k over appraisal for home in turnpike expansion route

Conley was one of nine landowners to sell their properties to the turnpike authority in 2022 before work on the three proposed new toll roads was paused due to ongoing litigation.

A map of the new toll roads on the ACCESS Oklahoma website shows Conley’s address located along the new east-west toll road junction with State Highway 62.

The Lost Ogle (a satirical news and information website) by Patrick Feb 10, 2023
Conley Klan scores sweetheart deal from Oklahoma Turnpike Authority!

the lady who eagerly cut to the front of the line to sell her house for an over-inflated price to the state to make way for a turnpike that may not even be built was simply trying to best serve her constituency that’s vehemently opposed to that very same turnpike.

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer Feb 5, 2023
Turnpike Authority seeks dismissal of lawsuit alleging illegal ACCESS Oklahoma payments

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Feb 4, 2023
Lobbyists stand behind turnpike plan as lawmakers file bills to curb OTA power

Lawmakers have filed nearly two dozen bills aimed at curtailing the power of eminent domain and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority as lobbyists launch their support for the agency.

Industry leaders who benefit from turnpike construction have kicked off a campaign to urge lawmakers to support OTA’s ACCESS plan.

Fox 25 by Miranda Vondale Foster Feb 3, 2023
‘Lawsuit designed to waste time’: OTA files motion to dismiss lawsuit against them

OU Daily by Peggy Dodd Feb 3, 2023
Oklahoma Turnpike Authority files motion to dismiss qui tam lawsuit

KOCO by Zach Rael Feb 3, 2023
OTA: State transportation official received threats over turnpike plan through Cleveland County

A spokesperson for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said they have investigated threats in the past, but nothing appears to be credible at this time.

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Feb 3, 2023
Turnpike authority says no tax, no lawsuit

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer Feb 2, 2023
Lobbyist says death threats partly responsible for pro-turnpike expansion movement in OK

A transportation lobbyist is organizing a campaign to support the $5 billion ACCESS Oklahoma toll road expansion plan and says the move is partly in response to death threats against state turnpike officials. 

Bobby Stem, director of the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors, is leading the campaign, which he says is in response to what he sees as an effort by Norman-area homeowners to take down the entire turnpike network. 

[…]

Stem’s campaign involves not just encouraging firms and their employees to email and call legislators to support ACCCESS Oklahoma, but to also donate $2,000 to the effort. The Association of General Oklahoma Contractors has spent more than $1 million lobbying lawmakers over the past 20 years. Pike Off members protested outside the organization’s headquarters in August during a $1,000 a plate fundraiser for Gov. Kevin Stitt, a proponent of ACCESS Oklahoma.

Campaign filings show the contractors political action committee was one of the top donors to Stitt’s 2018 and 2022 campaigns.

Stem said that though his members stand to make millions on turnpike projects, no dollars had been spent on supporting ACCESS Oklahoma until the start of the current campaign. 

January 2023

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer Jan 24, 2023
Wildlife, pollution cited as Bureau of Reclamation blocks OTA expansion at Lake Thunderbird

Oklahoma turnpike engineers likely will reroute portions of proposed toll roads after being blocked from constructing parts of the new corridors through Lake Thunderbird.

Citing concerns about the impact to protected species in the area, sound and light pollution, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation last week denied the application along the route of the south extension as it does not meet the land’s intended purposes.

Records obtained by The Oklahoman also show David Streb and his firm, Poe & Associates, informed the Bureau of Reclamation that construction on the east-west connector will start in 2024 and construction on the south extension toll road will start in 2027 with completion in 2037.

Turnpike officials, however, have stated the south extension would not be built until the “tail end” of the $5 billion, 15-year ACCESS Oklahoma plan. Deputy Director Joe Echelle reiterated that timeline Monday.

Map showing a proposed turnpike path in yellow cutting through multiple areas of Bureau of Reclamation Land near Lake ThunderBird
Map showing the initial proposed route for the South Extension crossing Bureau of Reclamation Land

KFOR by K. Querry-Thompson, Natalie Clydesdale Jan 24, 2023
OTA expansion plan near Lake Thunderbird denied

The Minot Voice by Josh Wolsky Jan 17, 2023
Oklahoma Turnpike Authority “Willfully” Misled Public To Force $5 Billion Expansion Project (And Why It Matters In Minot)

The building of public infrastructure is big business and in Oklahoma, the desire to build a $5 billion turnpike expansion project was greater than the desire to do it legally and transparently. 

Strong Towns by Asia Mieleszko Jan 16, 2023
Ruling: Oklahoma Turnpike Authority “Willfully” Misled Public to Force $5 Billion Expansion Project

State Impact Oklahoma by Beth Wallis Jan 16, 2023
Lawyers allege improper handling of ACCESS turnpike project payments, OTA appeals Open Meeting Act violation

Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Jan 15, 2023
Proposed task force would scrutinize OTA

“If the turnpikes in Cleveland County go forward, citizens will have to pay a toll any direction they want to go in Cleveland County, which concerns me not just for my district but for the state,” (senator) Standridge said.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority Board voting history

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer Jan 10, 2023
Lawsuit accuses Oklahoma Turnpike Authority commissioners of being ‘rubber stamp’ body

A lawsuit filed against Oklahoma Turnpike Authority commissioners accuses them of being a “rubber stamp” body that has abdicated its oversight role.

News9 Jan 10, 2023
New OTA lawsuit seeking recovery of $42 million in ‘unlawfully’ paid funds 

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Jan 9, 2023
Attorney sues OTA, contractors, seeking refund of nearly $42 million

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Jan 5, 2023
State lawmaker requests audit of OTA over ‘possible’ misconduct’

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer Jan 4, 2023
The Road Ahead

An overflow crowd of protesters watched a televised feed outside of the transportation boardroom. Commissioners voted to ratify paying the previously approved contracts as a “corrective action” on Olsen’s ruling. Several protesters saw the action as a forgone conclusion and didn’t expect commissioners to listen to their pleas.

KOCO by Alyse Jones Jan 3, 2023
OTA has green light to move forward with Access Oklahoma again

Residents and citizens at the January 3, 2023 OTA Board Meeting
Concerned citizens speak out during a 1 hour public comment period at OTA's Jan 3, 2023 Board Meeting

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer Jan 2, 2023
Turnpike authority looking to skip reset on $5 billion ACCESS Oklahoma

“They want to spend millions more while the supreme court decides whether they can proceed,” Labarthe said. “If the supreme court votes no, they will have wasted a lot of money. It will bankrupt the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. Do we want a bunch of bondholders to appoint a trustee to run our turnpike system? This is crazy stuff.”

December 2022

The Oklahoma Gazette by Gazette staff Dec 28, 2022
Like a sprawling Lovecraftian terror, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority may be creeping its tendrils towards you

Freedom of Information Oklahoma
Announces 2022 Award Recipients December 26, 2022

Oklahoma’s governor and its turnpike authority were named co-recipients of the Black Hole Award because of their efforts to thwart access and openness to public information and open meetings in the state.

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Dec 24, 2022
DA’s office recuses itself from city’s Open Meeting Act case

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Dec 16, 2022
Ward 5 residents launch new offense to stop toll road project

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Dec 16, 2022
Back to court after judge rules against OTA in open meeting act lawsuit

Local attorney Stan Ward is heading back to court on a lawsuit he won against the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority after the agency’s attorney refused to sign the final judgment in the case. 

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Dec 13, 2022
Judge sides with OTA on ‘Pike Off’ lawsuit jurisdiction 

Screenshot of ACCESS Oklahoma Website message - Dec 12, 2022

OU Daily by Peggy Dodd Dec 9, 2022
Access Oklahoma on pause after violation of Open Meeting Act
 

The Journal Record by Janice Francis-Smith Dec 8, 2022
Judge puts brakes on turnpike project 

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Dec 8, 2022
Lawsuit halts turnpike contracts

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Dec 8, 2022
Oklahoma Turnpike Authority board to evaluate court’s decision

The Bond Buyer by Karen Pierog Dec 2, 2022
Judge slams Oklahoma Turnpike Authority for Open Meeting Act violations 

“No person of ordinary education and intelligence could know from the agendas that ACCESS Oklahoma was to be rolled out at the meeting and/or even that new turnpikes were being planned,” the ruling stated. “The term ‘certain turnpikes’ is so vague that the use of the term in and of itself shows an intent to deceive the citizenry of Oklahoma.”

KGOU by Dick Pryor Dec 2, 2022
Judge invalidates Oklahoma Turnpike Authority ACCESS Oklahoma action 

KOCO by Alyse Jones Dec 2, 2022
Access Oklahoma opposers react to ruling on OTA violations 

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer Dec 1, 2022
Judge rules Oklahoma Turnpike Authority ‘willfully’ violated open meetings law 

KFOR by Ashley Moss Dec 1, 2022
“Very good news” : Plaintiffs react to ruling that OTA violated Open Meeting Act

State Impact Oklahoma by Beth Wallis Dec 1, 2022
Oklahoma Judge: Oklahoma Turnpike Authority violated Open Meeting Act, ACCESS project contracts rendered invalid

OU Daily by Peggy Dodd Dec 1, 2022
Judge rules against Oklahoma Turnpike Authority in Open Meetings Act lawsuit

“We know the fight probably is not over for good, though we’re here for the long run and we intend to win”

November 2022

Supreme Court Room - Oklahoma Capitol

KFOR by Nick Camper Nov 28, 2022
Turnpike-expansion-plan-argued-at-oklahoma-supreme-court

News9 by Barry Mangold Nov 28, 2022
PROTESTORS ASK OKLAHOMA SUPREME COURT TO TOSS PLAN FOR NEW TURNPIKES

The Journal Record by Janice Francis-Smith Nov 23, 2022
State Supreme Court to take up Oklahoma Turnpike Authority Case

State Impact Oklahoma by Beth Wallis Nov 22, 2022
Oklahoma Turnpike Authority purchased oppositional domain names ahead of ACCESS project rollout

“From a public relations standpoint, this is unethical of the OTA to do because they are purposely attempting to limit any information [that the public needs] to make decisions about this project.”

KFOR by Natalie Clydesdale Nov 21, 2022
Over 200 property owners face off against OTA in court over Open Meeting Act

The Bond Buyer by Karen Pierog Nov 21, 2022
Oklahoma Supreme Court to hear turnpike bond dispute

Oral arguments before the justices are scheduled for Nov. 28, with the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) seeking validation of up to $500 million of second senior lien revenue bonds and hundreds of property owners in the path of toll road construction fighting to block the debt. 

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Nov 19, 2022
Judge to hear motions that could resolve OTA lawsuit

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer Nov 19, 2022
Emails show Oklahoma Turnpike Authority bought domain names opposing $5 billion expansion plan

“This was a creepy attempt to snuff out any opposition,” Labarthe said. “They knew they were going to get opposition. And while doing this, they were trying to seduce local politicians and contacting their cronies who make money off of this. It’s 5 billion (dollars) and it buys a lot of largess.”

State Impact Oklahoma by Beth Wallis Nov 18, 2022
Oklahoma Turnpike Authority purchased oppositional domain names ahead of ACCESS project rollout

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Nov 8, 2022
Pike Off OTA case heats up

State Impact Oklahoma by Beth Wallis Nov 7, 2022
Oklahoma Turnpike Authority responds to allegations of modifying public meeting agendas

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Nov 4, 2022
Engineers, OTA employees shrink from depositions

With nearly each motion to depose OTA employees, board members and contractors there are counter motions to stop them from testifying, court records showed.
“We have had a battle on every discovery issue,” Ward said during a Thursday interview with The Transcript. “They have been very, very reluctant to turn over any documents or produce witnesses.

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Nov 3, 2022
‘He’ll have to see us’: Turnpike splits crowd at Stitt event

Outside the Norman Chamber of Commerce as Gov Kevin Stitt speaks Nov 2, 2022

October 2022

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Oct 28, 2022
Facing Accusations

State Impact Oklahoma by Beth Wallis Oct 21, 2022
Turnpike Authority modified public meeting agendas

Metadata from publicly posted meeting agendas appear to indicate Oklahoma turnpike staff altered agendas for a pair of public meetings leading up to the announcement of a controversial $5 billion turnpike project.

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Oct 16, 2022
OTA depositions to begin Monday

News9 by Barry Mangold Oct 12, 2022
NORMAN PHOTOGRAPHER DOCUMENTS HUMAN COST OF TURNPIKE EXPANSION

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Oct 9, 2022
Judge’s orders: engineering firm included in discovery

The Bond Buyer  by Karen Pierog Oct 3, 2022
Property owner ire over Oklahoma Turnpike plan sparks legislative study

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Oct 2, 2022
Attorney provided evidence to claim turnpike invalid

A local attorney who has sued the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority over a proposed turnpike in east Norman claims there is evidence in long-forgotten legislative history that proves the agency has violated state law.

The legislature must approve turnpike projects according to the state’s Enabling Act, but Norman argued the agency never obtained legislative approval for the toll road in the watershed and demonstrated he had proof.

September 2022

The Journal Record by Janice Francis-Smith Sept 30, 2022
The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is facing questions about tolls and maintenance fees

Oklahoma State Capitol

OU Daily by Peggy Dodd Sept 29, 2022
Pike Off OTA, Cleveland County residents dispute ACCESS Oklahoma turnpike project at state Capitol interim study

Fox 23 by Spencer Humphrey Sept 28, 2022
EXCLUSIVE: State legislators seek answers on contested Turnpike; local officials remain silent

KFOR by Ashley Moss Sept 27, 2022
“This is an Oklahoma issue”: Interim study scrutinizes OTA turnpike plan

“The Turnpike Authority must return to its original mandate, maintain its infrastructure, fulfill its obligations, and return its roadways to the state and its citizens,” read a document outlining the strategic initiatives of Tuesday’s interim study.
Tuesday’s effort was sponsored by Senator Rob Standridge, R-Norman, and the Senate Transportation Committee.

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Sept 26, 2022
Turnpike studies slated Tuesday: Senate Transportation Committee to hear several presentations

OK Energy Today Sept 19, 2022
Transportation officials defend bond firm’s history of millions in penalties

OU Daily by Peggy Dodd Sept 14, 2022
Pike Off OTA disputes turnpike authority’s purview in Oklahoma Supreme Court hearings

Pike Off OTA and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority attorneys presented their arguments to an Oklahoma Supreme Court referee Tuesday morning during a hearing regarding OTA’s request to approve a $500 million bond issue.

Supreme Court Referee Hearing September 13, 2022

The Oklahoman by Ben Felder Sept 14, 2022
Turnpike opponents present argument to Oklahoma Supreme Court

The Journal Record by Janice Francis-Smith Sept 13, 2022
Oklahoma Turnpike Authority makes its case to state Supreme Court

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Sept 10, 2022
No authority: City’s alleges OTA cannot build east Norman turnpike

“[OTA] may have developed a plan, an idea or a concept that includes a new 29-mile north-south turnpike on the east side of Norman, but absent express statutory authorization, a plan or concept is what the South Extension project must remain because the decision whether to build resides with the people and their elected representatives in the Legislature, not the unelected Turnpike Authority.”

The Bond Buyer by Karen Pierog Sept 9, 2022
Hearing set in validation process for challenged Oklahoma Turnpike bonds

OU Daily by Peggy Dodd Sept 8, 2022
City of Norman files brief in attempt to block approval of ACCESS Oklahoma turnpike projects

August 2022

The Oklahoman by Addison Kliewer Aug 30, 2022
Oklahomans opposing ACCESS turnpike expansion protest at fundraiser for Gov. Kevin Stitt

OU Daily by Peggy Dodd Aug 30, 2022
Pike Off OTA members protest ACCESS Oklahoma turnpike plan outside Gov. Kevin Stitt’s campaign fundraiser

The campaign fundraiser was hosted by Devery Youngblood of OK Aggregates Association, Bobby Stem of the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors, where the event was held, and David Streb of Poe and Associates, who works with the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority on the ACCESS project.

State Impact Oklahoma by Beth Wallis Aug 30, 2022
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt holds $1000-per-plate fundraiser while anti-turnpike protestors demonstrate outside

Demonstrators outside of $1000 per plate fundraiser hosted by turnpike project contractors

State Impact Oklahoma by Beth Wallis Aug 18, 2022
‘Something that can’t be replaced’: What a turnpike project could mean for Oklahoma wildlife

Among mounting concerns about the displacement of families, fair compensation for property acquisition and an intrusion on a rural lifestyle, residents who regularly see deer grazing in their yards and eagles soaring overhead are also wondering, what’s going to happen to all the wildlife and the facility that takes care of them? And how far does the law go to protect them?

Brigitte Kersten-Gates at her home in southeast Norman, Oklahoma

July 2022

Linda Evans cheers during a Pike Off OTA meeting Thursday, July 21, 2022 at The Mercury

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood July 22, 2022
“Dead deal,” attorney says flaws will mean no turnpikes in Norman

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood July 17, 2022
What’s next for OTA?

The Journal Record by Janice Francis-Smith July 22, 2022
State House, Senate to scrutinize Oklahoma Turnpike Authority

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer July 12, 2022
Oklahoma turnpike expansion plan approved by transportation panel despite concerns

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood July 11, 2022
Transportation commission approves turnpike plans

District 2 Commissioner James L. Grimsley cast the lone “no” vote in the 7-1 decision to approve the proposed toll routes at the meeting. […] Grimsley said. “I don’t think it’s a tenable future where we build highways with really no limits on that, because we’re running $50-$60 million a mile. That’s not sustainable, and then we have to turn around and maintain those.”

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood July 10, 2022
Norman without rep on state transportation board

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood July 9, 2022
OTA files motion to dismiss

June 2022

A crowd of residents who have filed a lawsuit against the OTA gather Friday on the front lawn of their attorney, Stan Ward

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood June 19, 2022
‘David vs Goliath’ Fight against OTA defined

Residents who filed a lawsuit against the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority know they have a tough fight on their hands, but gathered to steel their resolve at a meeting with their attorney Friday night.

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Jun 18, 2022
Councilor meets with State Chamber

The Bond Buyer by Karen Pierog June 13, 2022
Oklahoma Turnpike charts path to state Supreme Court to validate debt

The OTA board directed the agency to seek approval of the debt from the Oklahoma Council of Bond Oversight and then ask the high court to validate debt for turnpike extensions challenged in one of two lawsuits filed in district court last month.

The OU Daily by Peggy Dodd June 10, 2022
OTA board votes to terminate line of credit with Wells Fargo, approves bond issue, ACCESS Oklahoma project routes

Gene Love, chairman of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, calls the special meeting to order on Jun 9. Several protestors attended the meeting, yelling, "Trade your homes for ours," at board members.

The Center Square by Kim Jarrett June 9, 2022
Oklahoma Turnpike Authority greenlights bonds for controversial project

“The people of Oklahoma are tired of being treated like we have no voice,” Mullica said. “We have a voice, and despite what The OTA may think, we also have a choice. This is our state, and our roads, not the OTA’s.”

Fox 25 by Colleen Wilson June 9, 2022
OTA auctioning off extra properties bought during construction of Kickapoo Turnpike

In what could be the largest public auction of state-owned land ever in state history, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is auctioning off surplus properties acquired during turnpike construction.

Oklahomans hold signs outside the OTA's surplus property auction June 2022

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood June 8, 2022
OTA to issue bonds, address Norman projects at special meeting Thursday

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood June 3, 2022
Audit resolution fails at state Capitol

KFOR by Taylor Mitchell June 2, 2022
Hundreds of Norman residents placing signs opposing possible turnpike coming to the area

Home-made sign reads "GO AWAY OTA NO MORE TURNPIKES"
No Pike Mowed into Yard
Message for aerial photos reading "No Pike" mowed into a landowners grass
Home-made sign reads "Hay NABUR YUR HOUZ NXT - OTA"

May 2022

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer May 31, 2022
Oklahoma turnpike expansions, and subsequent land auctions, lure developers, homebuilders

The Oklahoman by Jessie Christopher Smith May 29, 2022
Newcastle Mexican restaurant celebrates 10th anniversary as turnpike expansion looms

KOSU by Beth Wallis May 23, 2022
Norman-area residents allege Open Meetings Act violations in lawsuit against Oklahoma Turnpike Authority

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood May 20, 2022
Killed by committee, Senate bill to force OTA studies fails

Michael Nash, spokesperson for resistance group Pike Off OTA, said it was a clear win for profiteers.

“Today, our legislators chose private profits over the quality of Oklahoman’s water and precious natural treasures unique to this area from anywhere in the world,” he said. “Yet again, they chose special interests over people. All we asked of the Legislature was to see that the Turnpike Authority perform a little due diligence to ensure the people would not be adversely impacted, and our legislators told us we were asking too much.”

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood May 18, 2022
Hundreds file a lawsuit filed against OTA, alleged Open Meeting Act violation

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer May 14, 2022
Oklahoma promised to make toll roads free. After 75 years, here’s where that promise stands.

The enthusiasm for turnpike expansions isn’t what it once was. Pike Off, an organization formed by Norman area residents, argues the Turnpike Authority will destroy more than 600 homes and its traffic and revenue projections can’t be trusted. Some protesters are asking lawmakers to abolish the authority and make existing roads toll free.

Motorists lined up for ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the west gate of the Turner Turnpike during its 1953 opening.
The LeBlanc family stands outside their home in Norman.

State Impact Oklahoma by Beth Wallis May 13, 2022
‘Oklahoma doesn’t want us’: Families grapple with looming displacement from turnpike

“I had no idea that a few people in suits in some corner office could take a map, draw a line on it, and destroy thousands of people’s lives.”

State Impact Oklahoma by Beth Wallis May 12, 2022
‘That home is sacred to me’: Norman woman joins fight against turnpike

State Impact Oklahoma  by Beth Wallis May 5, 2022
In light of lawsuit, council conditionally approves funds for Oklahoma Turnpike Authority

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood May 5, 2022
OTA says Norman studies full speed ahead

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer May 4, 2022
Lawsuit says Oklahoma turnpike expansion plan does not comply with state statutes

The Bond Buyer by Karen Piero May 3, 2022
Oklahoma Turnpike expansion opponents sue to derail project

The lawsuit’s claims mirror objections that attorneys filed with the bond oversight council, contending the OTA lacks legal authority for the project.
Robert Norman, one of the attorneys, cited a 1987 state law authorizing the OTA to fund four turnpikes, including two included in the ACCESS Oklahoma plan, with a single revenue bond issue and under one bond indenture. He said the OTA issued bonds in 1989 for a significant portion of the four turnpikes and now wants “unlawful” new bond issues to fund additional turnpike segments. This argument was not raised when the Oklahoma Supreme Court in 2016 approved other OTA bonds and therefore that ruling does not have binding precedent, Norman said.
Those bonds were the target of a lawsuit challenging their constitutionality.
Another objection filed by attorney Elaine Dowling stated the plan’s Southern Extension Turnpike is outside of OTA’s statutory authority.

April 2022

Oklahoma Senate Communications Press Release Apr 29, 2022
Boren supports objections to OTA’s credit application

OK Energy Today Apr 28, 2022
Turnpike study bill close to approval in Oklahoma legislature

Screenshot of Kevin Wallace for State Representative website

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer Apr 15, 2022
Lawmaker who pushed for turnpike expansion has subcontracted road projects while in office

Transportation activist Tom Elmore, a longtime critic of the state’s transportation policies, said Wallace’s contracting work is part of a pattern of possible conflicts among those tied to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer and Carmen Forman Apr 11, 2022
Homes, businesses in danger as legislator pushes for turnpike expansion near Lake Arcadia?

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Apr 8, 2022
Letter sent: Lake district says OTA will have to comply with feds

“If past behavior on previous turnpike projects is any indication, the OTA will not work to protect the environment either during construction or along the built transportation corridor.”

March 2022

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Mar 25, 2022
OTA begins studying toll road impacts

Rally at the OK Capitol - March 23, 2022

OU Daily by Peggy Dodd Mar 24, 2022
Norman residents rally at state Capitol opposing turnpike plans, seeks to bring accountability to OTA

Hundreds of Normanites and residents from cities surrounding Norman flooded into the fourth floor of the Oklahoma Capitol rotunda Wednesday, armed with shouts of “go away, OTA” that echoed through the halls, stretching into the Senate and House of Representative chambers.

Their signs reflected worries of losing their homes to a turnpike, proposed to cut straight through the rural east side of Norman and extend along Indian Hills Road. Blindsided by the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s announcement, residents brought their emotions to the lawmakers.

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood March 23, 2022
Mayor to governor: “We’ll show you”

Pike Off OTA

The Norman Transcript by Mindy Ragan Wood Mar 22, 2022
‘Pike Off OTA’ organizes, Council to pass resolution against turnpike plans

According to Oklahoma Secretary of State records, Pike Off OTA formed on March 15, weeks after the Feb. 22 OTA announcement of its $5 billion, 15-year plan to expand toll roads throughout the state. Pike Off OTA is headed up by former Ward 5 councilor Michael Nash, Dave Moore and Dr. Amy Cerato, a civil engineer and environmental science professor at the University of Oklahoma, Nash said.

March 4, 2022 Residents of Norman and surrounding towns attend tense townhall meeting over proposed turnpike plans.

February 2022

OK Energy Today Feb 23, 2022
Expansion of Oklahoma’s turnpike system is unveiled

The Oklahoman by Steve Lackmeyer and Carment Forman Feb 23, 2022
Oklahoma Turnpike Authority moves forward with $5 billion expansion plan

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is going to ask the state to approve selling the first $200 million of what will eventually total up to $5 billion in bonds to finance a 15-year statewide expansion of toll highways.

The request, to be heard next month by the Council on Bond Oversight, coincides with quick approval by turnpike authority board members on Tuesday to move ahead with the expansion program, ACCESS Oklahoma, and to hire consultants and contractors to assist on bond sales, land acquisition, engineering, and utility management and relocation.

Nondoc by Tres Savage Feb 22, 2022
State savings accounts rise, huge turnpike plan unveiled

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority Feb 22, 2022
Officials unveil first look at ACCESS Oklahoma turnpike plan