Oklahoma City News, Entertainment & Occasional Humor • Established 2007

8 ways to improve the Turner Turnpike


Every once in a while, you have to go to Tulsa.

It’s not a bad place, per se. Cain’s is a great venue, and there are some neat things that happen there. I mean, it’s no Oklahoma City, but it’s not a bad place. The drive there, however, is the worst. I’m not sure why a drive that’s approximately 2 hours can seem so painful, but each and every time to make it, you swear off the northeast part of the state for good, only to return because, well, you have to.

But what if that drive didn’t suck so hard? What if those two lanes were less like torture, and more like a vacation? That’s why I bring to you a list of 9 things to improve the Turner Turnpike. Lord knows all the money we spend on the tolls should be going to something. Why not improvements?


8. High speed rail

This improvement involves getting rid of the turnpike all together. If I could hop in a train and take that to Tulsa instead of having to drive there, I would be one happy peach. I may even go to Tulsa more often if that were an option. I can almost guarantee that this train would do more business than the Heartland Flyer.


7. More vaginas

Speaking from experience, one is never enough.

6. More Amishy Quaker sorts of folks

Once these Amishy Quaker sorts of folks were at the McDonald’s on the eastbound side of the turnpike, and they were ordering McFlurries. Only, when they said it, it was “mac flur egh”. This is easily one of the top ten moments of my life, and I could totally be in a good mood while driving to Tulsa if I got to hear Amishy Quaker sorts of folks say totally made up food items from fast food menus. I mean, I would totally die to hear one of them order a Quesarito.

arbuckle wilderness

5. Arbuckle Wilderness-style animal feeding

Would you be road raging super hard if you could feed giraffes all the way to Tulsa? No. No you wouldn’t.

4. More restrooms at gas stations that play weather radio

You know when you stop to use the restroom at that gas station on the turnpike, and there is always some weather radio noise playing? Well, what if we had more restrooms along the way that did that so there wasn’t always a line? Sure, a normal adult who was potty trained can probably hold it and shouldn’t need to stop every few miles. But can you honestly look me in the eye and say that you’ve never wished for more restrooms along that route?

3. More food options

As long as we’re going to add restrooms, they may as well be located in restaurants that aren’t McDonald’s. No one is happy when they have to choose between McNuggets or beef jerky from a gas station. And yeah, I know it’s only a 2-hour or so drive and you could totally not stop for a snack, but I don’t want to live in a world where one of my options is “to not eat.”


2. No more construction zones

So you’re barreling down the turnpike at a fast clip, when all the sudden the left lane is closing and you have to get behind a semi and wade through a construction zone of cones (where no one is actually doing any construction, by the way) and go crazy slow for like 10 miles. And then, you finally get out of the construction zone only to encounter another just a couple of miles down the way. Seriously, how is there always construction. Between the work zones on the Turner Turnpike and the work zones on I-35, you’d think that every road worker in the state was currently employed and earning all potential overtime.


1. Raise the speed limit to 90

Let’s be honest. You’re already going that fast anyway.

Marisa has been writing for The Lost Ogle longer than she has ever held a real job. Follow her on Twitter @GentleMarisa.


  1. Approximately two hours? Are you an 80 year old grandmother? The speed limit is 75 and the trip is only 90 miles.

    • A very cursory glance at the article shows she is factoring in stop time. Three of the entries are about it, and one is about the constant ‘construction’.

    • Also when do you start the clock, normal people from when you left your house, so if you live in Norman or in Edmond right by the turnpike the travel time would vary just a bit.

    • There used to be one in Stroud, it was terrible, it had Bass Shoes and Jordache. It was destroyed by a tornado and never rebuilt.

      • Disagree. The mall was quality in its day. Might suck now if it never changed stores, but I see it being like the outdoor mall near Yukon.

        I heard the only reason they didn’t rebuild had to do with the owner collecting the insurance check and retiring.

        • I have to disagree with you sir. The outlet mall was already on the downhill slide before the tornado hit. 41 out of 53 tenants remained before May 3rd even though that seems alot most of the stores you could find already in OKC or Tulsa. I went there a few times, the last in 97, paint was already chipping away and just generally not well maintained. When it first opened up it was very busy but after the newness worn off fewer and fewer people visited it. Being built on a turnpike was not a good idea. The location was not a good fit. Being halfway from the city or Tulsa when there is nothing else in Stroud to do, if it was built 10 miles outside OKC or Tulsa it would probably done better. The reason it was not rebuilt was because the tenants did not want to reopen. The outlet mall was owned by Tanger, a corporation, not a single owner.

  2. Fun fact: Braniff Airlines was founded in OKC to provide speedy air travel to Tulsa back in 1928. The high speed rail idea actually makes a lot of sense, as there are a lot more people in OKC who need to go to Tulsa than to Fort Worth. I mean, come on, Fort Worth?!?! Why the hell would you need to go there?

  3. High speed rail always makes sense. Besides not having single-payer health-care, not having rail is one way you know youre not in a civilized country when youre in Murka…

  4. Grammaw– we called her ‘Dammer’– and Grampaw McClintock lived in OKC, where I was born. We lived in Tulsa. I remember riding the Frisco line behind steam between Oke City and Tulsa. We had rail! What happened to it? Fanciest restaurant I ever ate in was the dining car: silver, china, linen, crystal. I remember riding US 66. I remember what a big deal it was when the Turner Turnpike opened.
    Probly the Interstate, of which the Turner was prototypical– quirky lil state, Oklahoma, every once in a while we are ahead of the curve!– was overall a bad idea. I remember reading in the Weekly Reader about Ikes fancy-dan new I-state
    I remember riding US 66

    • Years ago, someone, I forgot his name, ran for governor. He promised to make the Turner Turnpike a free road. Alas, he lost, and his goal never reached fruition. What a wonderful world it would be if the Turner Turnpike and Kilpatrick Turnpike were free to drive on. It will never happen though. Greed runs deep in this state, just look at how we allow our land to be raped by the energy industry. The almighty dollar rules the day!

      • I think it was Gary Richardson. He also wanted to remove the concrete barricades between the lanes.

  5. Take 66 to Stroud then get on the Turnpike. Or take 66 all whe way. If you’re gonna whine about it, may as well make it a leisurely whine.

    • Howard Johnson’s was WAAAAYY better than McDonald’s. What the hell were they thinking? And they took out the awesome skywalk that said, “You’re Doing Fine, Oklahoma!” Now they’ve ripped out every restroom and fired half of the toll takers. The Turnpike Authority sucks.

  6. Why isn’t there a sign BEFORE you enter the Turner Turnpike that tells you the fee? Finding out the fee when you reach the midway tollbooth is a little late imho …

  7. That Maximum 90 sign is in metric. As if the starburst pattern used to emphasise signs wasn’t a dead giveaway since they work in a power outage and signal beacons don’t.

    You know what vastly improves the drive to Oklahoma City to meet with the OKC Furs for bowling meets for us? Taking Route 66 instead. It’s a guaranteed 2½ hour trip each way, (usually closer to 3 or 4 the way it works out for us) because there’s actually things to stop and check out and scenery with variation on that route, and it dumps us on a relatively sedate road in Edmond. Sure, it’s a state bike route and soon to be a US bike route, and getting up on harvest, but even so, at least that moves. All it takes is one freak to screw up on the Turner cattle chute at 75 (already the design speed for that road, and most of the traffic is physically incapable of breaking 60 going uphill) and you might as will put it in park because you aren’t going anywhere for an hour. As if not getting dumped out of a 55 zone and immediately into the passing lane of the 35/44 freeway wasn’t reason enough to avoid the RJ Turner if you’re not just going to bypass OKC on the HE Bailey…

    Seriously, 66 is the way to do it if you don’t absolutely have to make the trip in 90 minutes.

  8. I’ve driven down Route 66 many times… yeah, it’s a great road to drive, if you enjoy dodging all sorts of wildlife that scurry out into the road! And then there are all the idiot drivers who run stop signs or pass other cars dangerously. Not a very leisurely drive as far as I’m concerned.

    • Heh, I’d rather dodge wildlife on the slower and roomier 66 than the RJT cattlechute, especially if you’re up against the wall.

  9. Put in a separate lane with no speed limit, but a minimum of 90, and charge $20-$50 to use it. I’d pay a premium to drive over 100 mph to Tulsa.

  10. Apparently, 40-50 years ago when a new international airport hub in the central US was being discussed, Stroud was considered a location for a OKC-Tulsa superairport with flights all over the world. Of course the egos at the respective city halls made sure it never happened and Dallas got the hub. What could’ve been would’ve been awesome. Imagine high speed rail between both cities connecting the Int’l airport, a free I-44 (tolls were supposed to end when the turnpike loans were paid off, but the law states that is only when ALL OTA loans are paid off. Hence, a new turnpike will get built when the balance gets low.) not to mention all the business that would’ve sprouted along the sleepy towns along the way. Foresight……the lack of which makes me weep!

    • But the OTA does already take debit and credit cards. You do, however, need to open a PIKEPASS account to make use of this. Think of it as Google Wallet for your car.

    • The “all turnpikes” thing was done because the RJ Turner Turnpike is _seriously_ underwater. The OTA owes more on it now than when it was built. Tolls only go to paying the mortgage off on that, and back in ’28 when discussions were underway on building it, their rather flawed traffic surveys suggested the route would have, by 1960, more traffic than Interstate 405 in Los Angeles County has today (the busiest motorway in the world). We wouldn’t have had this problem if we waited until after World War II, in which it’s pretty likely it would have been a new post-war build under the Eisenhower Interstate system (much like the Kansas Turnpike made an abrupt ending into a farm field from a four-lane motorway into a dirt track at Bank 0 on the Oklahoma State Line before I 35 was built; in that case, Kansas jumped the gun expensively).

      That said, if the OTA hadn’t pushed for that change during the Creek Turnpike widening, I seem to recall plans to hand it off to ODOT, which had plans to number it OK 644 (to remain consistent with I 244 and (the unsigned) I 444 as bypass/business routes to I 44) .

      • I should also add that part of the Chicasaw Turnpike that did get paid off entered ODOT service as OK 7 Spur within the last year, and the Creek Turnpike was going to change over to OK 644 earlier this year when the lane widening was finished (hence why it actually has correct (purple) colored ETC signs on the pikepass lanes, they had to order ones at the last minute as they were out of the old sign stock).

      • The OTA was created in ’47 and the Turner was completed in ’53. What exactly happened in ’28?

        • It’s when they were originally talking about building the turnpike down in the state house. Obviously it took a while to get off the ground between the time it was discussed and the time it actually started to happen, what with that whole dustbowl thing going on.

    • The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority does take debit and credit cards. You do need to open a PIKEPASS account, though, and that can be done online, by mail, by phone, or at either of the OTA offices at the start of the JR Turner Turnpike leading out of OKC and Tulsa.

  11. having lived extensively in both cities I can say without reservation that Tulsa is the better city.

    That said, what kind of wimpy vehicle are you driving? I could ride a Vespa or my grandma’s wheelchair from OKC to Tulsa in less than two hours.

    • In theory, sure, raw speed. But that doesn’t take into account average speed, which tends to be substantially lower, especially in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas. Average speed of Tulsa surface street traffic: 14 MPH. Average speed of Tulsa cycleway traffic: 15 MPH. So, yeah, no bitching about the cyclists, they’re going to get there just as fast as you are….

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