Faster Vs. Cheaper: Oklahoma Turnpike Or Shunpike?

Monday, August 24th 2009, 1:46 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- It now costs 16 percent more to drive on Oklahoma Turnpikes. The increase has some wondering if it's worth it to find a different route. The News On 6 teamed with its sister station, NEWS 9, in Oklahoma City to put it to the test and answer that good question.

News On 6 reporter Dan Bewley in Tulsa and NEWS 9 reporter Dave Jordan in Oklahoma City were both armed with a stopwatch. The reporters took a journey to each other's city.

Dan Bewley took the straight shot on the Turner Turnpike. Dave Jordan took a shunpike, an alternative avoiding tolls.

"I'm not going on the turnpike. I'm staying on Route 66," said Dave Jordan, NEWS 9 reporter.

Dave Jordan's two-lane trip wound through scenic Oklahoma, a rural countryside and postcard type views.

Dan Bewley had scenery too, only it all looked the same, trees and trucks.

The goal was to see what the difference in travel time is on the two highways.

Midway through the trip, Dan Bewley came across the toll gate and decided to see how Dave was doing.

"Hi Dave, it's Dan. We're coming up on the halfway point, the rest stop here, just outside of Stroud," said Dan Bewley.

"You're at Stroud already," asked Dave Jordan.

Dave said he was still a good ways from Stroud, so Dan Bewley decided to stop the clock and found it took 36 minutes from Tulsa to the rest area.

The News On 6 wanted to see if other drivers would consider a shunpike to save money.

"It just depends on what kind of drive it is and how much more time it would take," said Lisa Underhill, a Claremore resident.

"I would rather take the Turner Turnpike and only because it's quicker," said Donna Anderson, an Oklahoma City resident.

But Sue Cochran has a problem with that view on the Turner Turnpike.

"There's nothing here. It's just an empty space," said Sue Cochran, a Broken Arrow resident.

After a brief stop, The News On 6 was leaving Stroud and NEWS 9's Dave Jordan was just going through town when Dan gave him a call.

Dave Jordan said the drive was fun, but because the speed limits vary from town to town, it was hard to maintain a steady course. Plus, they had to stop at lights from time to time.

That is something that wasn't an issue on the turnpike. Dan Bewley's only concern was not getting bored.

A little more than a half-hour later and the end was in sight.

"So here we are, coming up on the end of the Turner Turnpike and let's stop it. Alright the stopwatch says one hour and twelve minutes," said Dan Bewley. "Wonder how Dave's doing."

"We just passed the sign that said Tulsa 23 miles, so we're not that far behind you," said Dave Jordan.

40 minutes later, Dave Jordan had downtown Tulsa in his sights. The final verdict for Route 66 is one hour and 52 minutes.

Of course, you'll have to double that for a round trip, so it would take an extra 80 minutes of drive time between the two cities if you take Route 66.

On the other hand, without a PIKEPASS, the Turner Turnpike trip costs $4 each way. Dave Jordan's trip on Route 66 didn't cost anything but gas.

All in all, it was a fun experiment. Hopefully it will help others decide -- shunpike or turnpike?

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority

Toll Fares/Chart