Turnpike NIMBYs Unite Against Planned Highway
12:09 PM EST on March 8, 2022
Back in February, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority – along with the backing of Governor Kevin Stitt, key Oklahoma lawmakers and the Oklahoma ruling class – unveiled a new $5 billion, 15-year plan that "addresses on-going highway infrastructure needs to improve access to communities across the Oklahoma turnpike network."
Part of the package includes expanding the Turner Turnpike to a six-lane highway, which will finally make it possible to drive from OKC to Tulsa in less than 12 parsecs. As long as the plan doesn't mess with the iconic Turner Turnpike vagina that either welcomes travelers to OKC or sends them on their way to Tulsa, I'm okay with it.
Another aspect calls for the construction of a massive new highway that would extend the Kickapoo Turnpike – the newly-constructed ghost highway that cuts through the eastern rural fringe of the metro from I-44 to I-40 – down to a connection at I-35 near Purcell.
An extension from that proposed turnpike would also fork at Indian Hills Road, and transform that thoroughfare into a turnpike that would connect far eastern Norman to Newcastle and 1-44.
If those words I typed make no visual sense, here's a map:
Just like every other time the state has proposed building a new toll road through the rural metro countryside, Turnpike NIMBYs have ventured out from their farms, country estates and mobile homes to protest the measure. You can view their FB group here.
Last week, 1,000 of them packed a church to bitch and complain about the proposal. The crowd was so frenzied and angry that if you didn't know better, you'd think the Turnpike Authority was asking residents to wear masks to prevent the spread of a deadly virus during a global pandemic.
Some Norman residents are furious that a turnpike is being planned that could pave over their homes ― a plan the state didn’t tell them about until after the route was determined...
People attending the meeting were steadfast in their anger and frustration, loudly repeating, “We don’t want it!”
Residents expressed a wide range of objections to the ACCESS plan ― from displacement of homes and disruption of businesses to endangerment of wildlife and potential contamination by turnpike runoff of Lake Thunderbird, Norman’s primary water source, and private water wells.
Although the worry about contamination to Lake Thunderbird seems like a reach – let's be honest, they call it Lake Dirtybird for a reason – I'm sure those are all good reasons to oppose a new turnpike, especially if it's being built in your backyard. If the city or state was forcing me to move so they could build a road, I'd also find a lot of causes and concerns that I normally don't give two fucks about to protest!
That being said, I don't live anywhere near this turnpike, and I also don't own a trucking company, so I don't have a strong enough emotional or financial stake to really care if it gets built or not. But...
I do think it's a decent and practical idea. Like it or not, this turnpike will better connect various quadrants of the metro, improve commute times, and with OKC being a national intersection for interstate commerce, relieve some traffic by giving truckers and travelers a quicker route around town. If the only casualty of that is endangering wildlife and displacing a few hundred residents, it's probably worth it... right?
According to the Turnpike NIMBY yelling at the screen on their phone at this very second, the resounding answer is "No." They moved to the country to live in the country and don't want other people to ruin it!
Roberta Provost, said she had moved out to the countryside in recent years to avoid the noise of urban areas. She and other residents said the turnpike expansion would disrupt the lifestyle appeal of the rural areas in which they live, disrupting livelihoods they had planned for future generations to inherit.
“Somebody can’t take 60 minutes out of their damn day to go a little bit further than to disrupt all of these people who have lived there at least 30, 35 years?” Provost asked. “I built my house to die in it. You can’t offer me enough money to buy my house.”
Not that Roberta cares, but I've driven up and down the new Kickapoo Turnpike in eastern Oklahoma County a few times, and the surrounding area is still pretty desolate, rural and very, very quiet. Although I'm sure it will be a different scene in another 20 to 30 years as the area grows, it doesn't seem to be affecting the country-living lifestyles of the people who live near it.
On that note, when the Kickapoo was being proposed last decade, residents in the area had a similar reaction. They yelled and screamed at meetings, organized on social media, sent angry emails to lawmakers, engaged the media, and even created now-defunct websites like StopTheLoop.org, StopTheTurnpike.com and VictimsofEminentDomain.com.
The results of that effort?
Unfortunately for the Norman Turnpike NIMBYs, I think their opposition to the new turnpike will achieve the same results. The Oklahoma Ruling Class really wants this turnpike to be built, and as we know, the Oklahoma Ruling Class usually gets what it wants. Plus, as I mentioned, there are very logical and practical reasons for building it. While the NIMBYs continue to protest this measure, I'd advise they do some research into their property values and be on the lookout for land a little farther outside the metro grid. You know, just to be safe.
Anyway, I guess we'll continue to monitor this story. In fact, I think I may reach out to some folks to put together a podcast on the topic. I guess leave your thoughts in the comments, and stay with The Lost Ogle. We'll keep you advised.
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