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Oklahoma Turnpike Authority votes to increase costs on tollways

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OKLAHOMA - The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has voted to increase the costs on tollways by 17 percent to help expand and renovate the state's turnpike system, including the construction of new toll roads in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

The fate of a possible turnpike toll increase is contingent on the outcome of a pending lawsuit.

"Mr. Jerry Fent has sued us in the supreme court, questioning the validity of a 1987 bond issue, where we lumped several turnpikes into one. It's called logrolling," said Jack Damrill with the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

So, because of that, the turnpike authority is able to use revenue from one turnpike for another, which Fent argues puts multiple issues into one law.

"We believe we are one system, one entity and don't believe that what he's arguing holds stature. So, we'll see what the court says and, if we prevail, then we'll go ahead with our projects as scheduled," Damrill said.

If that happens, a 17 percent toll increase would go into effect.

"This toll increase would take effect January 1st, a 12 percent increase January 1st of 2017. We will then have a 2.5 percent percent increase January 1st of 2018,” Damrill said.

Then, a second 2.5 percent increase in July of 2019.

The extra money would help fund several projects including an extension of the Turner Turnpoke from Bristow to Tulsa.

"We still have some of the lowest rates per mile across the nation. We'll still be 60 percent lower than the rest of the nation on average,” Damrill said.

Oklahomans we spoke with are still not looking forward to the increase.

"They charge too much as it is. I don't really care for it going up,” one gentleman told NewsChannel 4.

"Minimum wage isn't being raised, so everybody is struggling,” said another frequent traveler.