Oklahoma City - Sen. Mary Boren voiced her support for objections to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s (OTA) $200 million line of credit application that was filed this week with the Council of Bond Oversight. Attorneys for Norman homeowners and members of the nonprofit Pike Off OTA filed objections, which focused on the OTA’s lack of legal authority to build the turnpikes in Norman that could threaten the property and livelihoods of thousands of Oklahomans. The Norman Democrat said she hopes the Council of Bond Oversight realizes the serious legal defects in the OTA’s request for funding.
“It’s important that we demand that the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority obey statutory authority when asking to spend $5 billion over the next 15 years on projects that would displace thousands of Oklahomans and hundreds of homes and businesses,” Boren said. “Before we start making plans to build new turnpikes, we need to make sure OTA is obeying the laws that give citizens reasonable notice of projects.”
Two objections were filed by attorneys, Robert Norman and Elaine Dowling, asking the Bond Oversight Council to suspend authorizing bonds or any other financing until the court can interpret the statutes that OTA claims authorize the project. The attorneys intend to file a lawsuit on their clients’ behalf to obtain a judicial decision interpreting the statutes and other relief.
“The OTA may only construct and operate turnpikes in locations specifically authorized by statute. There are 35 possible Turnpike locations specified in statute; however, the turnpike Access Oklahoma would put through East Norman, Noble, and Slaughterville is not authorized by any of the 35 possibilities.” Dowling said.
Attorney Norman pointed out that the authorizing statute for the East-West connector running along the north edge of Norman has specific bonding requirements put in place by the Legislature in 1987, and that the OTA’s Access Oklahoma Plan violates those requirements.
Boren has voiced her strong opposition in recent weeks to two proposed projects in her district. The first is a 29-mile southern extension of the Kickapoo Turnpike running from I-40 in Oklahoma City to I-35 near Purcell, which would run through the eastern part of Norman as well as through other nearby communities. The other project is a 28-mile outer loop east to west connector from the I-44 Tri-City area, which includes Newcastle, Blanchard, and Tuttle, then east to I-35 and then east to I-40, running through Moore and Norman. Both are part of the 15-year, $5 billion turnpike expansion plan called ACCESS Oklahoma.
For more information, contact: Sen. Boren: (405) 521-5553 or Mary.Boren@oksenate.gov