What is the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority?

From the website:

 

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) is an instrumentality of the State of Oklahoma (the State) and a body corporate and politic created by statute in 1947. The Authority is authorized to construct, maintain, repair and operate turnpike projects at locations authorized by the Legislature of the State of Oklahoma and approved by the State Department of Transportation. The Authority receives revenues from turnpike tolls and a percentage of the turnpike concession sales. The Authority may issue Turnpike Revenue Bonds for the purpose of paying the costs of turnpike projects and Turnpike Revenue Refunding Bonds for the purpose of refunding any bonds of the Authority then outstanding. Turnpike Revenue Bonds are payable solely from the tolls and other revenues of the Authority and do not constitute indebtedness of the State.

Aerial View of Freeway

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is similar to a public utility, providing a needed, basic service at a fee that yields a return to its investors. The Authority must generate sufficient revenues to operate and maintain its roads at a high quality while covering the interest and principal payments owed to bondholders (investors) who have purchased its revenue bonds.

Who oversees the OTA and how does that relate to us?
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Governor Stitt

The Secretary of Transportation is appointed by the Governor and approved by Senate.

Board members are appointed by Governor Stitt and approved by Senate. Governor Stitt is a Member Ex-Officio. 

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Secretary of Transportation

(and Director of Authority for ODOT and Director of Oklahoma Transport Authority)

OTA
Board of Directors

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority

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Senate and House Transportation Committees

OTA projects are paid for by bonds and bond holders receive dividends.

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Bond holders

ODOT

These committees pass legislation that allow the OTA to create turnpikes.

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Portion of the motor fuel excise tax

Tolls

Tolls are used to pay for turnpike maintenance including salaries for OTA employees.

Citizens

Taxes

Our taxes fund our roads through ODOT but do not go to OTA. 

 
Senate and House Transportation Committees
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The Senate and House Transportation Committees are primarily tasked with handling legislative issues relating to Oklahoma's roads, bridges and turnpike systems. This committee can also cover modes of transportation such as airports, railway and waterways. Agencies often working with the Transportation Committee include the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, and the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission. Members are chosen by their party.

 

The Secretary of Transportation is appointed by the Governor. The Secretary serves as the chief advisor to the Governor on land, water, air and space traffic transportation needs and infrastructure. Oklahoma state law allows for the Secretary of Transportation to also concurrently serve as the head of a state agency. Our current Cabinet Secretary, Tim Gatz, holds the position of Director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Director of the Oklahoma Transportation Authority.

The Secretary of Transportation also oversees the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. The Director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is elected by the OTA Board of Directors and supervises the operation of the OTA. Tim Gatz holds both of these positions which gives him the power to influence all of the major transportation decisions in Oklahoma.

As the Secretary of Transportation, Gatz oversees himself as the Director of the OTA

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Secretary of Transportation

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Secretary of Transportation
 
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Director of ODOT

As Director of the OTA, Gatz partners with himself at ODOT to make decisions regarding highways and turnpikes

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Director of OK Turnpike Authority

 
 
OTA Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is responsible for governing the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. The Board is composed of the seven members, six of which are appointed by Governor Stitt and approved by the Oklahoma Senate. The Governor serves ex officio as the seventh member. The Board is responsible for appointing the Director of the Authority. The current Director of Authority is Tim Gantz, who is also the Secretary of Transportation and responsible for overseeing the OTA and ODOT (of which he is also the Director).

Member Ex-Officio

Governor Kevin Stitt

Chairman

Gene Love

Vice-Chairman

Engineering & Construction

Committee Chair

John D. Jones

Secretary/TreasurerFinance Committee Chair

Dana Weber

Litigation Committee Chair

Todd A. Cone

Audit/Budget Committee Chair

John Titsworth

Member

Will L. Berry

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Bond Holders

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority uses money from bonds to construct new turnpikes. The Council of Bond Oversight is scheduled to approve the bonds March 21, 2022 at a Council Meeting. The bonds that will be used to purchase the land and build the proposed turnpikes are slated to begin being sold in January 2023. 

ODOT

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation builds and maintains interstates, US highways, and state highways. It receives state and federal funding. The current Director is Tim Gantz because, let's face it, if it's a highway he is in control of it. 

CHANNEL 9: Oklahoma's Turnpikes

Who is profiting?

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Oklahoma has 10 turnpikes, more than 600 miles of pavement, making the state second in the nation for miles of toll roads.

"Critics say, ultimately, the only way to fix the system will be through major reform. They say the governor is the only person with the power to reform the turnpike authority. He appoints the director and the board who make all the important decisions."