Oklahoma Turnpike raising tolls 16% in August

July 15, 2009

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority's board today voted to accept a staff recommendation to raise toll rates on the state's ten turnpikes by around 16%. It is the first toll increase since 2001, when car tolls also went up 16% but truck tolls were raised 30%. Today's board decision on toll rates followed a Wilbur Smith Associates "System Rate Review."

Tolls will be increased August 4.

WSA forecast a decline in traffic on the ten turnpikes in 2009 of 3.2%, toll revenue to drop from $197.0m to $190.7m. Traffic in 2010 would recover a meager 1.2% producing revenue at current toll rates of $193m.  The rural turnpikes are harder hit than the urban ones - because of the decline in truck traffic and tourism.

The decline in traffic is likely to continue through the rest of 2009 and through most of 2010 because of economic turmoil, WSA say.

Traffic and revenue revenue according to the authority's financial reports has been pretty much frozen 2006 thru' 2008:

2006: $194.5m

2007: $196.7m

2008: $196.2m

Operating expenses rose during those years by 16%, from $64.8m to $75.3m, leaving cash flow at $120.9m in 2008  v $129.7m in 2006. The situation has deteriorated further this year.

The 16% increase in toll rates is estimated to raise revenue for 2009 to $199.4m, or 4.6%. In 2010 revenue would be $213.1m, $20.2m or 10.5% over the no-toll change revenue figure.

WSA estimates the Oklahoma Turnpike network will grow an average 1.4% in traffic over ten years. This is a much lower number than before the financial crisis.  Toll rates for cars in Oklahoma are currently about 7c/mile (4c/km) on the rural turnpikes and 15c/mile (9c/km) on the urban pikes.

For 5 axle tractor trailers the tolls are about 23c/mile (14c/km) rural and 56c/mile (35c/km) urban.

Both are somewhat below the US averages, WSA says.

The ten Oklahoma Turnpikes are 973km (605mi) in length and 3844 lane-km (2389 lane miles). They have 267 interchanges. Toll-wise the system is closed - a toll is levied on all possible trips.  

TOLLROADSnews 2009-07-15

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