Chickasaw Turnpikegreenspun.com : LUSENET : Oklahoma highways : One Thread
Any specific reason for the Chickasaw turnpike to exist? I see it on the map, connecting nowhere to nowhere, wondering why anyone would spend the money to go there. Any comments; sensible, responsible or otherwise are welcome.
-- George Hoering (email@example.com), March 17, 2001
The Chickasaw is rather pointless, much like the Cherokee. Apparently, someone thinks that that is going to become some high priority corridor, something I highly doubt.
-- Wes Kinsler (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 17, 2001.
Thanks. I think you're right about the Cherokee tpk. Now that I-540 is open, there may not be much call for a western corridor that's nearly twice as long. The more I look at the Chickasaw, however, the more I smell "porkbarrel". A "corridor" tries to link somewhere to somewhere and the Chickasaw doesn't seem to. At any rate I looked over the OTA web site, did some math and saw that in l999 the average daily useage was about 900 cars per day. Maybe not too bad for that part of the state. Anyway, I suppose the final answer lies buried in the Legislature archives somewhere.
-- George Hoering (email@example.com), March 25, 2001.
You know, I found an old Highway map one time, created just as Oklahoma finished the Turner Turnpike, and the Interstate Highway Act was getting underway. The map indicated an interesting, somewhat biforcated north-south turpike route through Oklahoma -- the route entered the State from the South at Thackerville, proceeded north to the Ardmore-Davis area, and split into two branches. The Western branch continued to Oklahoma City, and connected with the Kansas Turnpike, near Bramen. Roughly speaking, this route, of course, eventually became I-35. The Eastern branch ran diagonally, from near Davis to Henryetta, then extended north to Tulsa, merging with the Turner & Will Rogers Turnpikes. Wish I still had the map, but I don't.
At any rate, there has long been an intention to connect Dallas and Tulsa with some sort of divided, limited access road. In the late 1980's/early 1990's, the Bellmon administration proposed four new Turnpikes: Kilpatrick, Creek, Cherokee, and Chickasaw. The Chickasaw was to cut a diagonal path, much like the old proposed Eastern Branch, from I-35, near Davis, extending past Ada, and on to I-40 & US 75 at Henryetta. Projected traffic counts, however, could not justify building the entire route. US 69 had (finally) been widened to, at least, a four-lane, semi-controlled access route from McAlester to the Red River, diverting too much traffic off of the proposed Turnpike onto this somewhat parallel, free route (even though you still have to stop at traffic lights in Atoka, etc).
So, for whatever reason -- be it porkbarrell, feeling bad for having proposed it in the first place and then not following through, whatever -- OTA substantially shortened the route, lobbed off two lanes, and called it good. Overpasses have been constructed to accomodate future expansion to a full four lanes. But the road you see today was but a shadow of what it might have been.
In regard to the Cherokee Turnpike, I guess you never drove old Oklahoma 33 to Siloam Springs. This narrow, winding road was heavily travelled and extremely dangerous. ODOT widened the parts of the route that were easy (Catoosa to Chouteau and Flint to the State Line) but wouldn't pony up the cash to build the tough part from Chouteau to Flint, so OTA stepped in. Granted, now that I-540/US71 is nearly complete from Fort Smith to Joplin, the route is probably somewhat less important. However, Northwest Arkansas is one of the fastest-growing regions in the US, and to ignore it seems foolish (plus, Wal-Mart has to get their trucks into Oklahoma SOMEHOW....)
Hope that sheds a little light on matters.
Great website, by the way! Looking forward to seeing more.
-- Geoff Parks (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 08, 2001.
Thanks for everyone's responses. I feel like I got a whole lot more than I asked for but it's all welcome. FYI, I'm originally from Fayetteville, Ark. Dad moved us to the East coast in '59 but I still have memories. Yes, I've been on OK 33 but it's been so long I've forgotten what it was like. If it's anything like US 62 east of Tahlequah, I can understand. I drove that way back in '75 on a visit and that was quite a ride; narrow and twisting.
-- George Hoering (email@example.com), May 26, 2001.