CADDO COUNTY, OK (KSWO) - One of the projects funded by the toll increase on Oklahoma's turnpikes, that kicked in on Wednesday, is currently under construction about 15 miles south of Chickasha.
It will replace the 53-year-old tollbooth that's in Chickasha now, and feature a full speed PikePass lane, which should cut down on the number of accidents there.
Officials say this new toll plaza at mile marker 66 should be safer because the pike pass customers will be able to stay on the toll road at highway speeds. The cash customers will merge slightly to the right to pay the fee.
The current tollbooth south of Chickasha was built when the turnpike opened in 1964 and hasn't been changed since then.
Director of Communications for the Turnpike Authority Jack Damrill said the old design combined with the increase in traffic makes it a dangerous place.
"We do have accidents at that plaza too many times. One accident is too many of course but we have more than one and we need to increase the safety aspect of it and separate the pike pass traffic from the cash traffic in order to eliminate those accidents," Damrill said.
The new plaza costs just under 15-million dollars, funded through the recent toll rate hike, which is collected and spent by the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, as opposed to using tax dollars that fund projects built by the State Department of Transportation.
"Those who use the turnpike pay for the turnpike. Those who don't use the turnpike don't pay for the turnpike. So, if you use the turnpike you're paying for this construction," Damrill said.
When the new plaza opens, the $2.00 toll will remain the same, and Damrill says he does not expect it to increase when the next bump in toll rates takes effect in 2018.
The construction started in August of last year and they hope to have it done by this fall weather permitting. Reporting at mile marker 66.
Damrill said the next project on the list for our area is to replace the tollbooth at the Walters exit. It will be moved away from the Highway 5 bridge, and include a separate full-speed PikePass lane, like the one under construction south of Chickasha. Construction on that is scheduled for next year.