Oklahoma Turnpike Authority was originally intended to be a self terminating agency.
Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has never paid off a turnpike. Due to cross pledging, which allows for perpetual funding between turnpikes, OTA never will pay off any turnpikes.
Oklahoma Turnpike Authority may raise tolls at any point. They have thwarted all legislative attempts to give elected officials the ability to regulate toll hikes. They currently plan to raise toll by 16%.
Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has never been audited by the Oklahoma State Auditor. OTA does a 'self audit'. It would take a petition of 10% of Oklahoma voters to make a citizen request for a special audit of OTA.
Oklahoma Turnpike Authority does not have to perform Environmental Impact Studies unless they accept federal funding. Since asphalt is made from oil derivatives, many contaminants may leach into our ground water supply which is heavily used by Oklahomans via well water. No studies will occur to determine how detrimental the impact of the turnpike will be to resident left in it's path.
Oklahoma leads the nation in Turnpikes. If Turnpikes equal wealth, why are we so broke?!?
OTA has been building roads for 65 years and yet Oklahoma ranks among the worst in the nation for the condition of our roads. Maybe it's time for a change.
OTA has legislatively pre-approved plans for 32 additional toll projects!
OTA is an agency steeped in debt and based on bonds. As interest rates rise the dynamics around bond debt and bond attractiveness shifts. Higher rates lessen the value of the bonds currently owned. OTA is a bad investment! Not only for Oklahoman's about to lose land, but for the actual investors! The only possible way their bonds would look attractive is if OTA issue NEW BONDS as rates rise.
The Authority claims that it is “an instrumentality of the State of Oklahoma" and "a body corporate and politic.” In other words, it is a part of the State. But to whom does it answer? Nobody! Not the voters and not the legislature. Members consist of the Governor and 6 appointees of the Governor. Once they are appointed, they get to do whatever they want.
Fallin’s appointees to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority include Kenneth Adams, David Burrage, Kevin Hern and Albert Kelley, each of whom gave $5,000 to her gubernatorial campaign. Another Turnpike Authority choice, C. Carl Gibson, donated $200 to the governor’s campaign. A sixth appointee, E. Gene Love, donated $250.
Mary Fallin opposed eminent domain so strongly that she signed a law forbidding wind farms from invoking it in Oklahoma. Why would Fallin block eminent domain for the energy sector, but willfully and recklessly uses it for the transportation sector? While most Oklahomans support safeguarding property rights, Fallin's very close association with big oil makes the move seems self serving.
The North/South Eastern Loop route already exists! Why build a redundant road when state Hwy 177 is just a few miles east? Residents of the area use it routinely to link I-40 to Turner en route to Tulsa. Also, traffic heading from I-40 to Turner en route to OKC area may use the new Hogback gate. How is spending $300 million for one leg of a turnpike loop even ethical when the routes already exist for free?
Driver use of cell phones has impacted safety data significantly. Oklahoma Turnpike Authority will point to traffic data pertaining to wrecks without ever factoring in cause. Roads do not typically get the better of drivers who are paying attention.
Drivers use GPS to avoid toll roads. As a result, some turnpikes are renamed to trick drivers and GPS units into using the road. Tolls still apply despite driver preference.
The truth is that people who lose their property to eminent domain proceedings are almost never made whole. With eminent domain the property owner can’t say “no” and usually must settle for much less than he or she would have bargained for in a voluntary setting. The government only pays for what it acquires, not for what the owner has lost. Those losses include businesses, relocation expenses, emotional damage, loss of proximity to family/community. (Current court rulings in Oklahoma show offers from OTA are about 2/3 lower than actual court awarded valuations of same property.)
Monies offered as payment during eminent domain are taxable as income, thus reducing the buying potential of the settlement amount.
Eminent domain does not factor in the actual availability of comparable land, housing, or homesteads available on the current market.
Quality of life and current home value for those living in close proximity of a turnpike is often lost.
Living near any highway, turnpike or otherwise, poses health risks with devastating effects such as asthma, cardiovascular issues, increase rate of Autism, cancer.
Oklahoma Deserves Better than Oklahoma Turnpike Authority!
I'd like to share a little bit about my own journey as I investigated some of the fundamental questions about this proposed turnpike. When I first heard about the DrivingForward project I went to Facebook and posted a cautionary post to all my friends in Choctaw. Having lived in the area, I knew that Choctaw had traditionally been the area targeted and I wanted friends there to be informed about future changes. Initially, I had a favorable reaction at learning the state budget might actually have recovered enough to finance some new roads. That reaction was very short lived.
It quickly became evident that Mary Fallin's proposed project relied solely on Turnpikes. The project had nothing to do with a recovering state budget. In fact, it was clearly a devised plan to circumvent ODOT, a state agency that must adhere to state balanced budget laws. As a 30 year state resident I already know how to avoid several of the state's turnpikes. I prefer to avoid them. Even the most basic research into OTA reveals that there are many more turnpikes coming our way. Because of the drastic budget decline under Mary Fallin's administration, my fear for this state is that new highways will not be built in Oklahoma unless they are turnpikes. If the state cannot even fund the simple revamping of Hwy 177 into a NON-TURNPIKE thoroughfare project, is it really time to be building roads? The people I have spoken to about this have issued a resounding common statement for Mary Fallin: Before you build more roads, find a way to fix the roads we have!
I don't like taking a stance against against something unless I am able to offer a solution. I've spent time at the Capitol speaking with legislators and I am afraid to admit, solutions have been scarce. My own solution such as it is would be this: drive 2 hours in any direction. Drive right on out of Oklahoma. Once there ask THOSE PEOPLE what they are doing to get it right. You will notice improved roads upon leaving our state. The geographical conditions don't change at the state border, so how do you explain this? It must be something else.
I believe our engineers know how to build roads if properly funded so......I'm going to have to go with failed leadership and a fundamentally failed system of building and maintaining roads. From inside the capitol I can tell you that suggestions to fix our transportation infrastructure include indexing our gas tax rates so that they account for adjustments in inflation. I'm not in love with this idea, but it IS an idea and I'm happy to hear legislators consider it.
I think a tax increase merits the same careful consideration that Eastern Oklahoma Residents are asking for. Why have we not been given time to carefully consider our situation? The answer is easy. We've stopped this corridor before. Mary Fallin and OTA did not intend to give us time to organize and fight for our rights. They've spent years planning behind closed doors, all while claiming no project was being finalized. Plans were made to ensure that the people would not have the opportunity to object. Before the state embarks on any project that will require eminent domain to be invoked, it should be looked at as an issue to be avoided - not rushed. Anyone watching this drama unfold can tell you......this project is very rushed.
Which leads us to another questions. Why the rush? Why now? The answer is simple. Money.
Something changed in late 2015. In a move that was widely expected, and certainly anticipated by Mary Fallin's administration The Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate .25%. Modest as it may be this was America's first interest rate hike in nearly a decade. The Fed forecasted that it will be patient with future rate increases so as not to kill the economic recovery, but the implication that future rate hikes will follow is evident.
OTA is an agency steeped in debt and based on bonds. As interest rates rise the dynamics around the finances of bond debt and bond attractiveness shifts. Bond investors haven't had to worry about higher interest rates for nearly a decade. But now that the Federal Reserve has raised rates, higher rates lessen the value of the bonds currently owned. Simply put, OTA is a bad investment! Not only for Oklahoma's about to loose land, but for the actual investors! The only possible way their bonds would look attractive is if OTA issue NEW BONDS at the NEW higher rates. OTA is dying. They are slowly starving to death......and they want to cannibalize our land in Eastern Oklahoma County to stay alive. It's understandable that residents have no intention of propping up a dying agency that was supposed to self terminate half a century ago.
In a recent speech to concerned citizens Secretary of Transportation Ridley cautioned our community that change must come. Sec. Ridley.......swallow your own pill. Change IS coming. OTA has had decades to thrive. We have residents that remember when the Turnpike Authority was created and they all have a statement they'd like to make. YOU LIED TO US. Why should residents of Harrah, Newalla, Choctaw, Luther and Jones pay the price for your lies, Fallin's failed economics, and basic greed? I'll tell you with no shame......we don't intend to. I know the concept is foreign to you and that you will not understand, but We are not motivated by money and our land is NOT for sale!
Old Germany entrance promotes turnpike.
In ongoing turnpike drama, local business owner Mike Turek has taken to the airwaves to chastise future victims of eminent domain. While Choctaw proved the perfect spot to realize his American dream, some question if Mike fully grasps the document that makes it all possible. His nearly tearful interview has people baffled.
Mike has gone on record saying he would be happy to move if the turnpike were to take its original path over his establishment, because "in the end, it's just a structure". But this statement raises a string of questions with residents. Is the loss of a restaurant really equatable to a home? If walls do not define him, then why not move his business? If economic growth is so slow for Choctaw, why has Old Germany stayed in this location for 40 years?
Still, Turek seems blind to any correlations between his situation and those fighting for their homes. “For them to call a boycott on my restaurant, our livelihood, is awful," Turek said. "They shouldn’t do that." However, opinins to the contrary abound. As local resident Eddie succinctly states, " Mike Turek can say anything he likes, and we have the right to boycott any restaurant we like. He may have done a lot for this community but this community has done EVEN MORE for him. Many of us feel as though he has turned his back on us. We feel betrayed by him. He doesn’t just have a different opinion than me, he is actively supporting someone attempting to bulldoze my house to the ground. I’d say that is pretty damn personal wouldn’t you?"
While it seems improbably that Turek could be oblivious to his ironic turn of events, at least one local resident questions if Turek's surprise was real. "How could he not know? It's called karma. I hate to say it but I think he just wanted free advertising, and KFOR gave it to him." While no formal declaration of a boycott has been found, many residents feel helpless to do anything other than let their money talk. Residents further note, "Money seems to be the only thing some people understand. Maybe if we speak their language they'll actually listen."
Are there lessons to be learned? It would seem one certainly stands out. "The First Amendment does not protect you from repercussion. If you publicly express yourself in a manner that is offensive, hurtful, or just plain dumb, strangers might contact your friends/family/school/employer and tell them what you did. That is not infringing on your right to free speech; it's pointing out how you choose to exercise that right."
When asked what final words they would like to give local pro-turnpike businesses, local residents caution: "Leave my property out of your business plans. Taking what isn't yours is called stealing. Profiting from someone's catastrophic loss after you promoted it is called greed."
The Choctaw Economic Develompent Authority (CEDA) meets the last Wednesday of the month at 4:30 pm at Old Germany Restaurant located at 15920 SE 29th St. The meetings are open to the public.
Landowners taking a closer look at who supports Turnpike Agenda.
OKLAHOMA CITY — While most of her choices, and her policies, are conservative, some of Oklahoma Republican Gov. Mary Fallin’s executive appointments are Democrats — and some are donors to her 2010 campaign for governor.
Fallin donors now head the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, the same agency charged with enacting eminent domain for her new drivingforwardok.com project.
"Fallin’s appointees to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority include Kenneth Adams, David Burrage, Kevin Hern and Albert Kelley, each of whom gave $5,000 to her gubernatorial campaign this past year.
Another Turnpike Authority choice, C. Carl Gibson, donated $200 to the governor’s campaign. Fallin’s sixth appointee to the Turnpike Authority, E. Gene Love, donated $250..."
Read full article: http://www.capitolbeatok.com/reports/fallin-s-first-choices-some-donors-some-democrats?A=PrinterView
Today I called Gary A. Jones who heads the Oklahoma Office of the State Auditor and Inspector to discuss the audit process as it pertains to OTA.
When I called the office in February, my call was directed to Trey Davis who answered several questions. He told me that OTA has submitted an audit report in 2014, but that the audit year was actually 2013. I found it odd that an agency that is about to embark on an $892,000,000.00 project was not being audited yearly. Naturally I inquired about it. That's when I was informed that our elected officials in the State Auditors office do not audit OTA. As an Authority, OTA is allowed to self audit - which is to say, they hire a firm to do the audit and submit the report to the State Auditors Office. I am unclear if the office reviews the data, or simply posts it to their website, but the process seems shockingly hands off.
Naturally I wanted to know which firm handles OTA's audits. I was told the Grant Thornton, an accredited firm, handled the 2013 audit. I asked how many consecutive years Grant Thornton has been the firm. Trey didn't know right off hand. I told him I'd email him so that I had written confirmation of my questions, and the resulting answers.
I spoke with you on the phone recently. Just trying to learn a little bit about how things work. Here are a few of my questions.
Why have the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority's audit's stopped right before an almost billion dollar project launch? How many consecutive years have Grant Thornton done the audits for OTA? Who can request a special audit of OTA?
Thanks in advance! I appreciate your willingness to help as I learn a bit about how our state agencies are maintained.
I understand the OTA FY14 audit has now been filed with our office. It is apparently too large for us to email to you (we had to change our parameters to permit it to be loaded to our servers). Grant Thornton, the firm conducting the audit on behalf of OTA has informed us the FY15 audit has not been completed. I don’t have a timeline as to when it may be available online.
Office of the State Auditor and Inspector
Thank you Trey. The last question I had asked was, how many consecutive years has Grant Thornton done the audits for OTA? This may in fact be my most pressing questions.
Now that we find ourselves in mid March with no further reply, I decided to call the office again. I still wanted to know how many consecutive years Grant Thornton has been working for OTA as their client. The assistant I spoke with today indicated that it looked like Grant Thornton had done all the OTA audits from 2008-2015. When pressed, she admitted that the State Auditor has never audited OTA. She said, "If we had, it would be here, and you could see it." The office of State Auditor advises that: these reports have been submitted by private sector accounting and auditing firms in accordance with 74 O.S. § 212B. Public entities audited by private sector firms include municipalities, public trusts or authorities, and public school districts. The office makes no warrant as to the propriety of these reports, including but not limited to, whether all presentation requirements have been presented or whether these financial audit reports have been conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
So, where does this leave us? I can only speak to my own concerns, of which there are many.
It looks like the audit process for such a large entity takes a very long time. I can believe that. I see some oddities in the reporting dates pictured below, but I do think a proper audit requires time. It also seems that the files required to post the data to the public are large. As in - 'expand your website before you can host' kind of large. The sheer size and scope of data instills in me a strong desire to have a second set of eye on these numbers.
I also find it concerning that a single firm has done audits for the state's most autonomous agency for 8 years straight. Even with accreditation, it certainly allows for a well developed client relationship. Friendships are formed, objectivity can be lost. Is there a standard within the auditing community that is in breach here? Preliminary research suggests that 5 consecutive years is standard and acceptable.
My final questions is, who can request a special audit of OTA? I haven't received that answer yet. I can see that the office of State Auditors performs that service, even stating: "Every citizen in the State of Oklahoma is served by providing assurance of accountability through Special Audits." Assurance and accountability sound great! How can we get some??
OKLAHOMA CITY — National data shows that Oklahoma roads have a deadly combination: we're among the top in the nation for deadly alcohol-related crashes and distracted driving crashes.
Below is a map of where deadly crashes happened in the last year. The brighter the color, more deadly crashes. Each spot represents a death.
Topping the list, the area of the Lake Hefner Parkway near the Kilpatrick Turnpike. There were more deadly crashes along the Lake Hefner Parkway than any other area. The second area with the most crashes is near the I-44 Lake Hefner Parkway.
Can't see the map? Click here to open it in a new window.Other areas that see many deadly crashes are just north of the airport, near Meridian the area near I-44 and the Lake Hefner Parkway exchange and the area the I-235 and I-44 interchange. While a deadly crash can happen on any road at anytime, there's one thing that's to blame now, more than ever. Distractions.
For traffic officers, they're public enemy number one. "In today's day and age, there's just so many more distractions than we used to have," said Oklahoma City Police Captain Paco Balderramma. It's a day and age when technology is causing crashes, instead of preventing them.
"The National Safety Council estimates about a quarter of all crashes are a result of distraction from cell phones or some kind of electronic devices, so we know this is a big issue," said National Safety Council President Deborah Hersman. "For sure, impaired driving, distracted driving and speeding are three of the main factors contributing to highway fatalities and this year in particular, it's been a perfect storm."Continue Reading...
By Keaton Fox Wednesday, November 4th 2015http://okcfox.com/news/local/oklahoma-citys-most-deadly-intersections
With all of the statistics that the OTA, EOCP, and other pro-turnpike people have cited regarding traffic, a few key points have not been accurately reported.
According to the National Highway Safety Administration, 2012-2014 data:
1) Traffic fatalities decreased in Oklahoma from 643 to 589 - an 8.3% decrease.
2) Traffic fatalities on the Turner and Will Rogers Turnpikes involving semi trucks accounted for 39% of the fatality accidents, although semi trucks only comprise 15% of the traffic.
3) There was only one fatality on highway 102 and 177 between I44 and I40, making those among the safest stretches of highway in the state.
4) Highway 169/64 in Tulsa had 8 accidents in its 7 mile stretch--making it one of the deadliest.
5) Highway 51 in Tulsa had 14 accidents.
6) I-35 in OKC - the "dangerous section" that needs traffic rerouted--had 15 fatal accidents from I-240 to I-44
7) I-240 had 17 fatal accidents, but 10 of those were on the WEST side of I35.
8) I-40 saw a 77% decrease in fatal accidents in the OKC metro once the crosstown was widened and completed.
9) When heading north on I-35 to the Turner Turnpike, ANY combination of highway routes you take to the EAST of the city is on average HALF as likely to result in a fatal accident. The least likely to involve a fatality: I-35 to I-235 to Hwy 77 to the Kilpatrick to the Turner.
10) TOTAL of THREE traffic fatalities on all the non-highway roads in Eastern OKC (Choctaw, Jones, Harrah, Luther) east of Anderson Road, between I-40 and I-44.
As seen by the dramatic decrease in fatalities on the I-40 crosstown, improving the existing roads will have a greater impact than building new roads. Can the OTA can guarantee a 77% decrease in fatalities by building the turnpike?
If you would like to compare for yourself, check out the interactive map:
Article by Choctaw ROADS
When is a road dangerous? When it separates you from your constitutional rights.
We ask any Oklahoma residents to watch the following documentary. The intro segment is just 9 minutes. We think those currently battling Oklahoma Turnpike Authority will find the situation eerily similar: a network of roads, governmental power, lack of representation, lack of accountability to voters, corporate overreach, rampant cronyism, all resulting in staggering debt. Yes, it's Texas and the scope is larger, but no less applicable to our current struggle.
We hope this award winning documentary opens eyes and raises questions.
We have had overwhelming interest in EOCP. We are working on a post trying to and explain this entity and its impact on the community. In the meantime, we share a letter composed by an unhappy customer.
To whom it may concern:
I have been a satisfied customer of yours for many years. I wish to maintain this business relationship, but since learning about your involvement with Eastern Oklahoma County Partnership I must immediately terminate my association with your business.
Your company was mentioned as one of many sponsors of EOCP, a local public/private partnership. We will not be conducting business with any entity that supports the destruction of our community, especially when it has been done in such a clandestine manor. No citizen input has been considered as it pertains to the turnpike - a front page issue when you visit EOCP's website. Most Eastern Oklahoma County residents have no idea EOCP is actively lobbying at the capitol in an effort to transform us into the next "Dallas or Phoenix"! They have no input on EOCP plans to bring in industrial rail and high speed transit. We find this very concerning. Every attempt we've made to voice our concerns has been ignored. The powers that be, including you, seem to think you know what is best for us. Over 240 years of representative government is being circumvented. Are you okay with that? I am not.
Your behavior on this issue is causing real people harm. Your business has made a terrible miscalculation in partnering with EOCP. They are an entity that has willingly gone behind the backs of the citizens. Any time you support a group claiming to work in the best interest of the public, you should probably ensure the public is actually included. Since you are listed as having substantial monetary 'pre-commitments' to EOCP you are aware that they are having private invitation only meetings with confidential documents not intended for ‘everyday citizens’. This is not how companies foster trust in a community and I am ashamed on your behalf that you ever thought it could be. You have made a very poor choice in your sponsorship of this unnecessary, unwanted, and unelected group. My lack of faith in your decision making is evident and must be acted upon. One has to question the moral center of leadership that protects their business-based interest while putting the homesteads and lifestyles of others at risk. Stop doing business like this is a game of monopoly where you get to pick and choose winners and losers.
In order to conduct business with you at some future point, I ask you to publicly announce your withdrawal from EOCP on the basis of resounding citizens input. Please acknowledge that the Mayors and city officials comprising the EOCP have failed to uphold the very first by-law of the Oklahoma Municipal League: (a) to promote the general welfare of cities and towns and their citizens. After reviewing OML meeting minutes it is my opinion that they reveal a strong pro-business, anti-resident agenda. We offer the following as a test for future business considerations: If you cannot do business in the full light of day, maybe you should not be engaging in that kind of business at all.