OKLAHOMA (KFOR) – Oklahomans with land and homes that are in the path of a new planned turnpike extension are being put on notice.
The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority wants to look at their land even though the new routes haven’t been finalized.
“We send out letters to property owners in the areas we think we may have to gain access to,” said Jessica Brown with the Oklahoma Transportation Authority. “And that is by law, we [must] send it 10 days in advance just to let them know and let them know that the law does allow us to do that.”
The OTA has stated that it will compensate fairly for any land it has to acquire through right-of-way land acquisition, but Randy is more concerned about the legacy his land leaves his family.
“Have you ever seen a bulldozer? Have you ever seen demolition [to a] home that [you] built [yourself]?” he said.
Carter is one of many residents afraid the OTA is worried will come in and destroy their land.
In February, OTA revealed the Access Oklahoma Program.
It’s a $5 billion, 15-year-long plan reinvesting into much of the current turnpike systems and building new turnpikes to help with congestion on Interstate 35.
“We have to move forward,” said Brown. “The problem in the past is that we didn’t move forward. These projects should have already been completed.”
One of OTA’s projects facing pushback from residents is the proposed expansion through the East-West Connector, the Tri-City Connector and the South Extension.
Carter’s home is right in the way of the planned south extension.
“I’d like for them to slow down and pay attention to what the people have said, ” said Carter.
A survey letter sent to people living near the proposed turnpike caused more confusion.
“Any time that we have to go out to survey an area for any type of construction, it’s really for pre-construction,” said Brown.
If a resident receives one of those survey letters, starting August 1, an authorized OTA agent may inspect their land.
“I’m not willing to give up my home and my property for a project that is so grossly mismanaged,” said Carter.
“The routes have not been finalized,” said Brown. “The routes will not be finalized until we get all the information from these studies starting right now.”
“We don’t have any more capacity to expand I-35, and it is growing. We predict by 2050 it will be complete gridlock during peak hours of travel.
Brown stated the 15-year-long plan is one of the reasons why it is contacting people and trying to do this pre-construction survey.