OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority on Tuesday voted to increase tolls by an average of 2.5% for cash customers.
The hike is the third and final increase to pay for Driving Forward, a turnpike expansion and improvement project, said Jack Damrill, OTA spokesman.
PikePass customers will not be affected by the toll hike that goes into effect July 15, Damrill said.
The OTA is encouraging drivers to pay by PikePass, which offers lower rates on tolls compared to those paying cash.
Under the PikePass system, tolls are automatically deducted from a prepaid account.
“We are leaving 78% of our customers alone,” Damrill said.
Announced in 2015, the Driving Forward package includes six bond-financed projects, including three benefiting the Tulsa area.
It includes work on the Gilcrease Expressway, Muskogee Turnpike, Turner Turnpike, H.E. Bailey Turnpike, Kilpatrick Turnpike and a new Oklahoma City turnpike.
The initial price tag was $892 million, a figure that has grown to $1.1 billion.
Damrill said acquiring the right-of-way cost more than expected.
John D. Jones, an OTA member, said tolls in Oklahoma are still considerably lower than the national average.
Damrill said for the national average, a passenger vehicle pays 20 cents a mile; it is 7 cents a mile in Oklahoma.
For heavy trucks, the national average is 73 cents a mile, while Oklahoma is 22 cents a mile, Damrill said.
Transportation Secretary Tim Gatz said the 2.5% is the final portion of the estimated 17% toll hike to fund Driving Forward.
Gatz said the recent extreme flooding has affected some of the construction projects.
He said he was asking for and appreciated the patience of the public.
Tulsa City Councilors offered a forum recently on the Equality Indicators report, which uses 54 equality measures that compare outcomes of groups likely to experience inequalities.