Tuesday, October 13th 2020, 10:37 pm
By: Clayton Cummins
HARRAH, Okla. –
Transportation history was made Tuesday morning in Oklahoma County as a portion of the Kickapoo Turnpike opened to drivers.
The stretch of turnpike from Luther to Harrah opened to drivers at 11 a.m. A ceremony was held virtually.
It was April of 2016 when the idea of a turnpike was first discussed. In early 2018, crews broke ground on the project.
Business owner Mike Gilbert from Bend Aid Auto Body in Harrah admits he originally wasn’t a fan of the plan.
“I felt terrible about the people that lost their homesteads when they started buying up land,” said Gilbert.
But things have changed over the years. Gilbert now believes a turnpike would be a huge shot in the arm for the area.
“We can always use more business, but we have been very blessed so far but definitely the businesses along here will benefit,” said Gilbert.
Growth has become more evident lately with a surge of new businesses and homes coming to the Choctaw, Jones and Harrah areas.
“Already we’ve seen immense amount of traffic flow, more than we did 5 years ago,” said Gilbert. “They will definitely have to slow traffic down out here. It’s 55 mph right now and that is too fast in my opinion.”
As business carries on many owners like Gilbert said they’ll remember 23rd Street as they know it, optimistic in a few years it likely will not look the same.
“If you are going to live this close to Oklahoma City, this is where its coming to and we have to roll with it,” said Gilbert.
The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority said the rest of the Kickapoo Turnpike could open to drivers after the first of next year.