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Mustang turnpike extension meeting draws calm crowd

MUSTANG — The public meeting for the proposed plan of a stretch of the Kilpatrick Turnpike linking to Airport Road was a whimper compared to the clamor of angry citizens during last week's meeting in northeast Oklahoma County.

More than 100 residents came out to the meeting Tuesday night at the Mustang Town Center.

A route for the new turnpike portion connecting the Kilpatrick Turnpike from SW 15 to Airport Road, also known as State Highway 152, has not yet been established.

State Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley explained to residents that traffic in Oklahoma City is expected to increase in population between 30 and 40 percent in the next two or three decades and that new traffic routes must be created to accommodate the growing number of motorists.

The traffic volume has more than doubled on north-south highways in central Oklahoma City since 1979, with some parts seeing more than 160,000 vehicles daily, Ridley said.

The stretches of highway near the intersections of Interstate 40 and Interstate 44 have seen more than 2,000 accidents in the past five years on each, he said.

“We don't have a lot of answers as to what the route will be. We know where it's going to tie onto. It's going to tie onto (State Highway) 152 and we know it's going to tie onto the Kilpatrick stub up there at (SW) 15th Street. Where it goes from there, we need your help making that decision. And that's what this meeting is all about,” Ridley said.

Officials asked residents to pore over maps with road engineers after the meeting and inform them where houses, structures and other features that need to be avoided might be.

Some Mustang residents expressed their concerns about being forced off their land. Some of them said these homesteads have been in their families for 80 years or more. Others don't want to see their newly purchased plots ruined by encroaching highway.

“I didn't buy a house to look at a freeway,” one man said. The crowd responded with murmurs of agreement.

Others insisted surveyors had already decided where the route would lie, but Oklahoma Turnpike Authority spokesman Jack Damrill said that's not the case.

“We purposefully do not have routes because we're very sensitive to people and their homes. We don't want to upend people. We knew the right-of-way should have been bought years ago, and it wasn't. There was no money to buy it, apparently,” he said.

“If there's not a route here, this whole area will be developed if we don't do something now,” Damrill said.

“Tonight's crowd was much more receptive than Thursday night. I'm still pulling out bullets from my chest from Thursday night. But both have similar concerns,” Damrill said.

“Although you heard some push-back from a couple of people, we hope to quiet their concerns,” he said.