The wheels are turning on a plan to designate U.S. 412 an interstate.
Sen. Jim Inhofe's legislation to designate the highway an interstate from I-35 in Noble County to I-49 in Springdale, Arkansas, is included in the surface transportation reauthorization bill recently passed out of a Senate committee. Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz said interstate designation would be a big deal for Tulsa.
"Tulsa is one of the largest communities in the country that's not served by multiple interstates. Obviously, the Turner and the Will Rogers has long served Tulsa very well, but the introduction of a new interstate over time will certainly benefit the Tulsa area by having that designation on the facility," Gatz told the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority in late May.
Interstate designation would make federal funding available for maintenance of the highway. Gatz said while the benefits are great, achieving interstate designation for U.S. 412 could be a 15-year process in all.
"I don't want anybody to have any misconceptions that that's an overnight thing, because it won't be. There's a tremendous amount of work on about a 40-mile section that's going to need to be done to bring the tax-supported part of 412 up to standards," Gatz said.
Gatz also says interstate designation would not mean making tolled sections of the highway free to drive on.