Meeting to be held to address opposition to eastern Oklahoma County turnpike
A new Turnpike planned in Eastern Oklahoma County, could make your commute easier, but some homeowners are against the idea. They're afraid they will lose their land, and plan to sound off in a meeting Tuesday morning.
John Carpenter has lived in Choctaw since 1977. He has a large plot of land passed down by his father. That could all change once this new Turnpike is built. The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority says it hopes the project will spur growth.
"It has long been thought that the reason why economic development hasn't occurred out in eastern Oklahoma county like it has in northwestern Oklahoma county is because they don't have a true north south corridor," says Jack Damrill, spokesperson for the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.
For residents like John Carpenter, that could mean he will pack up and leave the place he's called home for most of his life.
"I've got a lot tied in this land but if it gets too bad I'm going to have to consider maybe going somewhere else. And I planned on living my final years here," he tells FOX 25.
Carpenter, like many in town are opposed to the Turnpike, afraid of losing their land. They've been very vocal through multiple social media groups.
The Turnpike hopes to ease congestion on I-35, with 150,000 cars passing every day between I-240 and the I-40 Interchange. The OTA tells us they are only in the beginning stages, coming up with a route that will disrupt as few homes and businesses as possible.
"We're not going to impact them as they think we are so we are still trying to determine that but the impact on people will be pretty minimal," says Damrill.
The State of Oklahoma will ultimately have the rights to the land through eminent domain.
"We will be generous fair market value. We are going to negotiate with land owners, it's only if land owners don't want to negotiate with us or we can't work out an agreement with the landowner that we have to go to the court," says Damrill.
They hope to use that as a last resort, and those who oppose it are hoping for more voices at Tuesday's meeting.
"If we keep putting enough pressure on local and city and state officials maybe someone will come to bat for us and then it will snowball I think it's worth fighting for," says Carpenter.
The plans for where the Turnpike will be built are expected to be released in late Spring, or early Summer.
Tuesday's meeting starts at 10:30 A.M. and will be held at the AOGC Building on NE 41st in Oklahoma City.