OKLAHOMA CITY — The state Turnpike Authority quenched lawmakers’ need for speed and agreed to hike speed limits along five rural stretches of existing roadway.
The governing board voted to increase the speeds limits from 75 mph to 80 mph along the Turner Turnpike between Bristow and Sapulpa; the Muskogee Turnpike between Muskogee and Tulsa; the Cherokee Turnpike; The Indian Nation Turnpike between State Highway 9 and Interstate 40; and the H.E. Bailey Turnpike’s Norman spur. Later this year, the speed limit also will be 80 mph with the opening of the Kickapoo Turnpike, which will connect Interstate 40 and the Turner Turnpike in eastern Oklahoma County.
Officials said the speed limit increases won’t officially take effect until the new signage is installed. That process could take several months. Until then, troopers said they plan to enforce the current posted limits.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation also is expected to approve speed limit increases along rural stretches of public highway in the coming weeks.
Lawmakers recently passed House Bill 1071, which allows transportation officials the option to increase speed limits up to 75 mph on rural interstates and 80 mph on rural turnpikes.
Transportation officials said they looked at roadway geometry, sight distance, collision history, traffic flow and existing speed patterns before deciding which highways and turnpikes were eligible for speed limit increases.
Speed limits will not increase along Will Rogers, the main portion of the H.E. Bailey, Cimarron and Chickasaw turnpikes.
“This is a subject matter that in the transportation space is extremely serious,” said Tim Gatz, state secretary of transportation. “It’s one that we do not take lightly, and it’s one that we have had a long history of conversations with our partners in the Legislature about what the appropriate speeds should be.”
Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.