Sct Thunderstorms
H 97° L 72°
  • cloudy-day
    Current Conditions
    Sct Thunderstorms. H 97° L 72°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    Sct Thunderstorms. H 97° L 72°
  • cloudy-day
    Partly Cloudy. H 97° L 74°

Krmg news on demand

00:00 | 00:00


Krmg traffic on demand

00:00 | 00:00


Krmg weather on demand

00:00 | 00:00

Turnpike tolls going towards debt

Turnpike tolls going towards debt

Turnpike tolls going towards debt

Turnpike tolls going towards debt

FOX23 found out when you pay to drive on turnpikes you're helping to pay millions toward debt.

When the first turnpike opened between Tulsa and Oklahoma City lawmakers said once it was paid for, it would be free.

FOX23’s Janna Clark looked into why there are so many turnpikes now and whether any of them will ever be free.

“Are you spending a lot on turnpikes?” Clark asked a driver.

“Absolutely,” said Brett Mason.

The same goes for Kris Thorn, who lives behind the Creek Turnpike.

“I'm on the turnpike for 10 minutes and I pay two tolls,” said Thorn.

Thorn and Mason both take turnpikes to go to work, Thorn pays $500 a year and Mason pays $700.

“Do you think the Turnpike Authority's raking it in?” asked Clark.

“It's got to be astronomical,” said Mason.

“That’s a misconception that we're out building turnpikes because we're money hungry that's not true at all,” said Jack Damrill, with the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

Damrill said they build roads the state can't afford to build.

“I've heard a lot of people complain about having to pay tolls,” said Clark.

“Let me stress this is a user-based system. They don't have to take the turnpike,” said Damrill.

Damrill pointed out that out-of-state drivers pay 40 percent of the tolls.

“It's not all Oklahomans paying,” said Damrill.

Lawmakers decided to build the first turnpike between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, which opened in 1953.

“The idea was we're going to charge people to drive on it and once it's paid for it will be free?” asked Clark.

“Correct,” said Damrill.

“You'd think it would be paid for by now,” said Thorn.

“I think the original intent has gone to the wayside,” said Mason.

He's right. One year later, Oklahomans voted to let the Turnpike Authority use money from one turnpike to pay to maintain another turnpike.

Now there are 10 turnpikes, more than 600 miles worth.

Damrill said lawmakers have already given the green light to build 28 more turnpikes.

“You could build more?” said Clark.

“We could build more,” said Damrill.

“Why don't you?” said Clark.

“There’s not a need for them,” he said.

According to a Turnpike Authority report, last year it collected $233 million in tolls. It spent $22 million on turnpike maintenance, $19 million on toll operations, $13 million on highway patrol and $13 million for Pikepass customer service.

But it spent the most, 39 percent, on its debt about $97 million.

“With so much being generated, why are you in debt?” asked Clark.

"We incurred the debt to build these roadways and it takes years to pay off,” said Damrill.

In fact, the Turnpike Authority owes almost $1 billion in debt and isn't scheduled to pay off that debt until 2031.

At that time, the state could take over the turnpikes if it has the money.

“Could the Department of Transportation take on all these turnpikes?” asked Clark.

“At this time, no, they could not,” said Damrill.

“Do you think the turnpikes will ever be free?” asked Clark.

“Can I say they'll ever be free? I'm not sure,” said Damrill.

“So it's possible but no promises?” said Clark.

“No promises,” said Damrill.

FOX23 called the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to ask if they could take over the turnpikes right now and they said, no way; they're still playing catch-up to repair roads they said have been ignored for years.

Read More

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

  • As House Republicans move to consider the first bills to fund the operations of the United States government next year, Democrats are hoping to force votes on plans that would prohibit federal workers from staying at hotels and other properties in which President Donald Trump has a financial interest. The plans are being pushed by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, as Beyer hopes to bring them up for debate on four different funding bills that are scheduled to be voted on this week by the full House. The format is the familiar “funding limitation” amendment, in which ‘none of the funds’ can be used by the feds for certain purposes – in this case, staying at a hotel that is either owned or operated by the Trump family. The effort comes after press reports earlier this month, that the State Department spent over $15,000 to book rooms at the new Trump Hotel in Vancouver; the information was obtained by the Washington Post in a Freedom of Information Act request. For the bill that funds the operations of Congress, and programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs and Military Construction, the language spelled out above would block government workers from spending money to “pay or reimburse lodging expenses of a Federal employee or official in the course of official Government travel or business at any hotel or property in which the President maintains a financial interest.” For the spending bill that funds the operations of the Pentagon, Beyer’s plan would give the Secretary of Defense the power to waive those same prohibitions, “on a case-by-case basis,” on the grounds of national security. But in the funding bill for Energy and Water programs, Beyer’s amendment gets specific, listing over three dozen different Trump properties in the U.S. and around the world. It’s not clear if the plans will be considered during debate this week on these four funding bills, which are being grouped together into one ‘minibus’ funding measure, officially known as the “Make America Secure Appropriations Act.” The House Rules Committee will meet on Monday to sort through amendments proposed to the bill by lawmakers, and determine which ones should be debated.  
  • A sad story to report out of Caddo County. KRMG has learned two people, ages 12 and 60, drowned on Saturday on Fort Cobb Lake, at Avery's Landing.  The incident happened around 6:39 p.m. “Victim2 (12-year-old) was swimming in 3-to-4 feet of water, slipped off of a drop off into 7 feet of water, submerged under water and resurfaced one time,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol said.   “Victim1 swam out to Victim2, both Victim1 and Victim2 went under and did not resurface.” Kam Sivilai and the child were both pronounced dead at the scene.  
  • EMSA crews were busy on Saturday dealing with the consequences of the heat. As of 8:15 p.m. Saturday night, crews had responded to 11 suspected heat-related calls. KRMG's told the patients aged in range from 32 to 83-years-old. The forecast won’t be giving crews any relief on Sunday.  An Excessive Heat Warning is in effect for Tulsa and surrounding counties until 8 p.m. We can expect a high around 100 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.   Please be careful today and stay cool.
  • We can expect another ridiculously hot day in the Tulsa area on Sunday. However, National Weather Service Meteorologist Chuck Hodges says we also might get a little relief. “Mainly, Sunday afternoon into Sunday night,” Hodges said.  “There should be some scattered storms around.  Maybe, we can get one across town to help us out.” The high for Sunday will be around 99 degrees.   NWS reports the Tulsa area could see some storms on Monday and Tuesday as well.
  • Republican plans for tax reform could be less sweeping than originally envisioned by the White House and GOP leaders in Congress, as a provision in a House GOP budget blueprint would require any tax bill to be ‘budget neutral,’ which would force lawmakers to offset any tax cuts with revenue increases that could be difficult in some cases to gain approval. Deep in the fine print of the budget resolution for next year, the Republican plan allows for a tax reform bill under budget reconciliation, “if such measure would not increase the deficit for the total of fiscal years 2018 through 2027.” In other words, you can’t just cut taxes – which technically deprive the federal treasury of revenue, and therefore increase the budget deficit – you have to find revenue to pay for those tax cuts. And Republicans on the House Budget Committee were actively trumpeting that message. It’s time for deficit-neutral #taxreform, and our budget makes that possible. pic.twitter.com/naed7nv7o9 — House Budget GOP (@housebudgetGOP) July 19, 2017 On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan was touting tax reform during a trip to a New Balance factory in Massachusetts. “First and foremost, we’re going to cut your taxes,” the Speaker said. But when a tax plan is deficit neutral – a cut for one person means that revenue must be found somewhere else to offset that reduction – in other words, some other tax increase, mainly one would assume by taking away deductions in the tax code. And many veterans of Capitol Hill say that’s not going to be easy. “I spent much of 2011-16 negotiating tax reform proposals in the Senate,” said Brian Reidl, a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, who used to work for Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). “Revenue-neutral tax reform will make health care look easy,” Riedl said in a post on Twitter. Key Republicans have made clear that they want to put together a proposal that dramatically simplifies the current tax system. “So 96% of the people can do their tax return on a single postcard size,” said House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Diane Black (R-TN). To do that, you would lower tax rates, and then most likely eliminate or reduce tax deductions – and that’s where things get tricky. Revenue neutral tax reform is hard. pic.twitter.com/B5ohufu90y — John Arnold (@JohnArnoldFndtn) July 20, 2017 Do you get rid of the deduction for mortgage insurance? Lots of people talk about that, but it always goes nowhere. What about the deduction for state and local taxes? That has bipartisan opposition in and around big cities on the East Coast. The tax break on employer provided health care benefits? That went nowhere fast in the negotiations over the GOP bill to overhaul the Obama health law. End or restrict the business interest deduction? Hard to imagine. Deficit neutral tax reform – it sounds wonky. But it’s a pretty important development that may rein in the scope of a GOP tax plan.