Toll you so

For some inscrutable reason, this press release landed in my inbox:

On February 13th, Tulsa attorney and former Gubernatorial candidate Gary Richardson will speak to the Tulsa County Republican Men’s Club about his plan to eliminate the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

“The turnpike is a scam on the people of Oklahoma,” said Richardson. “It was a scam when they proposed it in the 1950s and it is a scam today.”

In Oklahoma there are 10 turnpikes with more of 600 miles of pavement, making the state tied for 1st in the nation for the amount of turnpikes.

Richardson will talk about the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and how the tolls that are collected are actually spent.

“Most people don’t know that the State of Oklahoma does not make one red cent off of the turnpike,” said Richardson.

Well, yes, we did know that, if we were paying attention, and some of us were:

The authority will spend about $73 million on road and other improvements this year [2012]. Of remaining revenue, $66 million will be spent on operations and maintenance, including salaries, and $95 million on the debt service. About $26 million (39 percent) of its operations budget goes toward the cost of collection, including toll booth operators and the Pikepass system.

Then again, it’s not like I expect a road, even a toll road, to turn a profit.

My own viewpoint on toll roads, informed by 25,000 miles worth of World Tours, is simple: I’ll take them if I’m in a hurry. Otherwise, meh. (Trip to Kansas City last December for my daughter’s wedding? $12 for the Kansas Turnpike. Worth it.)

Oh, and if you want to attend, or hang around outside, Richardson’s presentation:

Richardson will speak at the Tulsa County Republican Men’s Club monthly meeting on Wednesday, February 13th, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm at the Hibachi Grill, 74th and Memorial.

Hibachi Grill? Do they have an ATM machine?


  1. Tom »

    6 February 2013 · 2:34 pm

    “Most people don’t know that the State of Oklahoma does not make one red cent off of the turnpike,” said Richardson.

    And it doesn’t cost taxpayers one red cent either.

  2. Nicole »

    6 February 2013 · 6:50 pm

    Yeah, what Tom said. That’s more than 600 miles of road maintained by someone other than the state. That leaves all that money that would have gone to road maintenance to be spent on other things, right??

  3. CGHill »

    6 February 2013 · 7:53 pm

    Which, of course, it is.

    The easiest defense of the system, if you ask me, is in the fact that around $4 of every $10 in tolls is collected from people who don’t live here. This implies two things: (1) we’re not having to pay for all these roads, and (2) obviously not all the locals hate them.

  4. Nicole »

    6 February 2013 · 8:34 pm

    If I were local to a toll road, I might feel differently. But, living in a state that is consistently rated as having some of the worst roads in the country, I’d love the chance to find out. :)

  5. fillyjonk »

    7 February 2013 · 7:36 am

    My experience with the OK toll system, vs. the “smaller” roads:

    I don’t like getting the fillings rattled out of my teeth, so if I have to drive any distance at all in the state, I take the toll road. (You’d think in a state that so rarely had the ground freeze, you wouldn’t see “frost heaves” and cracks in the roadways, but you do.)

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