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! 
 


Comments

Betty Crutchfield
03/21/2016 12:20pm

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Betty Crutchfield
05/07/2016 7:46am

Very well put.
We beat it last time. Hopefully we can do it again call State Senator Ron Sharp District 17.
# 405-521-5539
We've posted other numbers will have to repost them.

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Paul Ramsey
03/21/2016 12:39pm

Looks like the political class needs changing form lacal elected officials on up...

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Paul Ramsey
03/21/2016 12:41pm

lacal=local

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Jason
03/21/2016 12:55pm

Not only that, but the derivatives the OTA invests in to hedge their interest payments are affected by the rate hikes. I think with the rate hikes they will be nearing a point of inversion...where they owe more on the hedge than they can cover. Not only that, but 32% of the current binds are variable rate, so an interest rate hike means the OTA has to pay more on those...the .25 increase cost the OTA about $10 million by my math...

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James
03/23/2016 4:46pm

So, stop or slow the sale of the bonds and the beast goes belly up

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Joe
03/24/2016 7:47pm

This is absolutely the best and on target reason I have ever seen on government let alone the OTA, every agency in this state needs closed and started over period no exceptions. And all of my life we have made fun of Oklahoma roads from county roads, state roads, and interstates. I have two examples -- I 40 right now we are currently withstanding long lines, today west bound was backed up to the casino. And what are they doing except intentionally making the road roughER than it was before, the the NEW stretch of OTA turnpike from Lawton to the red river - this has got to be the best road ever designed to keep traffic driving slowly because you can't drive fast you'll lose control on the roller coaster ride. FIRE OUR ENTIRE GOVERNMENT and replace them with the homeless asking for change along side the streets

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04/09/2017 3:35am

The turnpike was rushed may be because the government wanted to give the best and fastest service to its constituents. There are many toll roads in the United States especially near the East Coast where it is called turnpikes. However, the sudden rate hikes strongly affects motorists. I understand that the United States is still transitioning from Obama's government to Trump. I hope that the elected President will dutifully fulfill his obligation and consider the interest of his countrymen before his own interest.

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