Norman, Okla. (KFOR) – The state’s $5 billion turnpike expansion plan continues to come under fire, and this time, it’s Oklahoma’s official state rock at the center of the controversy.

Rose rocks are only found in a few places in the world, including east of Norman, which is right in the path of the planned turnpike expansion.

“To have this treasure here on your property is a blessing that I want to try to preserve,” said concerned resident Stan Ward.

Ward converted 160 acres of his property in conservancy in 2021 to protect the precious rocks.
“We can farm it, we can put agricultural on it but we cannot develop it or any residential purpose,” he said.

Photo goes with story
Rose rocks. KFOR file image.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) told KFOR Tuesday that they always do environmental studies when they construct new roadways, and they expect impact studies for the latest expansion plan, Access Oklahoma, to begin next month.

“A lot of community concern is around endangered species, threatened species of animals and also geological fixtures,” said Jessica Brown, the Director of the Strategic Communications Division for the Oklahoma Transportation Cabinet.

“Once the environmental study is completed, then the designers will actually look and see what is out there, what needs to be mitigated or avoided.”

Ward now hopes conservation status will protect the rock, along with the hundreds of acres of land and homes that surround it from being bulldozed.

“It’s not just for us, it’s for the entire community,” he said.

“That’s not how you do a civil engineering project,” added civil engineer and OU professor Amy Cerato, adding that preservation of the rocks will have a great impact on the ecological landscape in the region.

“Once it’s gone it’s gone,” she said of the rocks. “It’s not going to re-form again.”

The OTA said the studies could take up to six months to complete. Oklahomans that want to weigh in can go to the Access Oklahoma website to comment.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has a program information hotline for individuals who have concerns and questions about the ACCESS Oklahoma Program. The hotline can be reached by dialing1-844-56-ACCES(S) (1-844-562-2237).