Thursday, March 24, 2022

Sen. Boren, Cleveland County residents voice outrage over proposed turnpike expansion

Sen. Boren and other Cleveland County residents voice outrage over proposed turnpike expansion

OKLAHOMA CITY – At a press conference Wednesday, Sen. Mary Boren, D-Norman, was joined by other Cleveland County residents in sharing their outrage over the planned expansion of Oklahoma’s turnpike system that threatens the home and property of hundreds, the only location of a rare rock and a sanctuary for injured and orphaned wildlife. 

Boren pointed out the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s (OTA) concern for local residents seems to decrease with every major project. With the Kilpatrick Turnpike, OTA chose a path that took one house per mile, but with the Kickapoo Turnpike, the route took three houses per mile. The planned Cleveland County project would require the destruction of 16 houses per mile.         

“The Turnpike ACCESS Plan threatens hundreds of homeowners, landowners, and thousands of residents in my district. It’s my duty to amplify their voices at this critical time so that all Oklahomans can join us in persuading the governor and his appointees to the Turnpike Authority to change course and stop this lunacy,” Boren said. “Yesterday, it was homeowners and landowners in the Luther area who tragically lost their homes and businesses when the Kickapoo Turnpike was built. Today, the people of Cleveland County are in the crosshairs of the OTA. Tomorrow, it will be another community, unless the governor, state Legislature or the courts stops this proposed project.”                 

OU professor Dr. Amy Cerato explained that the proposed highway also runs through the only place Rose Rocks can be found in the world.

“Barite roses are distinctly Oklahoma. Our state rock since 1967, these exquisite natural wonders are found only one place on earth – in a thin band between Lake Stanley Draper and Noble. They are cherished by Oklahomans and mineral and rock enthusiasts from around the world,” Cerato said. “The citizens of Oklahoma, together with our elected officials, must hold the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority accountable in preserving this rare geological formation.”

The turnpike expansion would not only be devastating for area residents, but would also be catastrophic for WildCare, the state’s largest wildlife rehabilitation center and one of the largest in the nation, along with many endangered and threatened species in the area, according to Director Inger Giuffrida.

“The positioning of this turnpike in east Norman will destroy one of the most important wildlife corridors in central Oklahoma, cutting wildlife’s access off from Lake Thunderbird. It will affect bald eagle nesting sites, an important stop for tens of thousands of migratory birds, and kill thousands of animals that for generations have sought the forested areas, wetlands, and water supplied by the lake,” Giuffrida said. “This plan will relegate the wildlife trapped inside to a desert bound by I-35, 1-240, Highway 9 and the turnpike. It’ll destroy wildlife habitat – much of it unique, cross timbers ecology. No matter how the route is tweaked, if it runs along the west side of Lake Thunderbird, it will be disastrous for wildlife, some of which we know to be threatened or endangered. You would think this would have been considered by the OTA, but it wasn’t.”       

Following the press conference, Boren and the other speakers joined Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, D-Norman, and other Cleveland County residents for a rally on the fourth floor of the Capitol to encourage all impacted by the proposed turnpike to share their concerns with their legislators and the governor.


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