Speed limits increased for Creek, Kilpatrick turnpikes

Thursday, August 15th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma Transportation Authority voted Thursday to raise speed limits on the Kilpatrick Turnpike and a small portion of the Creek Turnpike.

The maximum speed on the Kilpatrick was raised from 65 mph to 70 mph. The turnpike stretches more than 25 miles around the northern and western edges of Oklahoma City, connecting with Interstate 40, I-35 and I-44.

The speed limit along a four-mile section of the Creek Turnpike was increased from 65 mph to 75 mph. The section stretches from the turnpike's intersection with the Turner Turnpike east to U.S. 75.

The increase in speeds was requested by turnpike customers, authority officials said. Michelle Paul, agency spokeswoman, said the posted speed limit on nearby turnpikes, interstates and other roadways is higher than those on the Kilpatrick and Creek turnpikes.

Paul said a traffic study on the Kilpatrick showed that 85 percent of motorists were already traveling 70 mph.

The study also considered speed-related traffic accidents on the roadway. Board member Dewey Bartlett Jr. said the study indicated there had been just three speed-related accidents on the Kilpatrick in the past five years.

The increase in speeds must still be approved by Commissioner of Public Safety Bob Ricks before new speed limit signs are posted and they go into effect.

Paul said Ricks is expected to approve the request and the new speed limits should be in effect by the end of August. Ricks did not immediately return phone calls.

Paul said the authority may seek an increase in speed limits on other portions of the Creek Turnpike, including a portion scheduled to open on Friday. She said a roadway must be open for at least one year before a speed limit increase can be considered.

Board member Fred Hall said studies of the Creek and Kilpatrick turnpikes indicate that traffic flow on the new roadways have exceeded estimates.

Almost 36,000 vehicles travel a portion of the Kilpatrick Turnpike each day although only 26,000 were planned.

``Roads that have been needed are now in place,'' Hall said.

Ken Morris, a consulting engineer with Atkins Benham Inc., of Oklahoma City, said the opening the new section of the Creek Turnpike is expected to increase traffic flow along the entire roadway.

``We anticipate there will be a significant amount of traffic to use that stretch of turnpike once it's opened,'' Morris said.

The authority also awarded a $9.5 million contract to Western Plains Construction to reconstruct a six-mile section of the Cimarron Turnpike. Officials said the contract price was $5 million below engineers' estimates.