Our state used to be called "THE SOONER STATE", however more recently it has become known by many as THE TURNPIKE STATE, this owing to our love of turnpikes. As a matter of fact Oklahoma trails only New York in the number of turnpike miles in a state's transportation system. There are some that believe our state motto should be "STOP AND PAY TOLL".
In Oklahoma we do have a wide variety of turnpikes from which to choose ranging from the "usual" such as the Rogers, Turner and Bailey Turnpikes to the "downright silly", which would of course be the infamous Chickasaw Turnpike. This "turnpike" is actually just slightly less than 18 miles of two lane toll road to nowhere.
Yes, you read that correctly. The Chickasaw Turnpike is only two lanes and exists only as the result of 'blackmail' by powerful rural legislators that held hostage the construction of new turnpikes in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa until they got their way and their two lane toll road.
What follows are the "Rules of The Road" for those contemplating travel on Oklahoma's many miles of turnpikes:
Fortunately most of the turnpikes in Oklahoma feature a wide variety of tall weeds, brush and saplings alongside the roadway and therefore concealment should not be a problem. Please be advised however that Oklahoma is rich in wildlife and a person must exercise caution when answering the call of nature in the "local" manner. The Oklahoma Transportation Authority will not accept liability for injuries resulting from use of our "unofficial" rest room facilities.
A recent "innovation" has been added to Oklahoma's turnpikes in response to the public demand to "do something about the lack of rest room facilities". That "something" was the addition of portable toilet facilities scattered about the various turnpikes. You've probably spotted these devices around construction sites, public events and so forth. The first incarnation of these portable facilities were locally dubbed "Keating Kans (Cans)" in honor of Oklahoma's Governor, Frank Keating (also known to many as Bumble Frank). Governor Keating was the first Oklahoma Governor to "do something" about the lack of restroom facilities along our turnpikes. Admittedly his solution left a bit to be desired but at least it was a start.
If you will look closely at the above graphic you will note that the two Keating Kans on the right are equipped with the optional Anti Tipping Bar while the two on the left are more conventional in their installation. One might also wish to note the picnic facilities adjacent to these Keating Kans which were in use on the Indian Nations Turnpike in late March of 2002. The only accomodations lacking are running water and electricity. It should be noted by prospective clients that all Keating Kans are to our knowledge "Uni-Sex", as the signs to the right of each door indicate.
Never one to rest on its laurels, Oklahoma continued its efforts to improve upon the restroom situation along our turnpikes. As a result a second generation of facilities were developed. These are a bit more pleasing to the eye if not to the nose, particularly during the heat of summer. The locals have dubbed this second generation of facilities "Keating Cabins", owing to their rustic appearance. Keating Kabins are normally constructed on concrete pads, therefore the optional Anti Tipping Bar is not required.
For your viewing pleasure, we here at Bubbaworld have proved the following two additional graphics which provide a much more detailed view of both the Keating Kabin Close Up and the Keating Kabin Interior. Both graphics open in a new window which you may close to return here. These graphics files are somewhat large and may take a while to download on a dialup connection but they are interesting to say the least.
While both the "Keating Kans" and "Keating Kabins" are vast improvements over hiding behind weeds, bushes and trees one is still left to ponder why, in a state where toll roads are the rule rather than the exception, doesn't the state provide adequate rest room facilities akin to those in the " more civilized states"?
The Oklahoma Transportation Authority has over the years repeatedly stated an aversion to providing modern restroom facilities along its turnpikes anywhere other than inside business that rent space from the state. Practically every turnpike has at least one modern restroom facility inside a McDonald's restaurant. These are usually located in the median between the turnpike's roadways. A few others exist inside gas stations located either in the median or in a few cases on the shoulder of the roadway. Any other restroom facilities are usually of the Keating Kan or hopefully Keating Kabin type.
If you plan a trip to or through Oklahoma, don't say we didn't warn you!
In September 1998, Sheri Sprung, of Las Vegas, NV found out just how important money was to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. We're not talking big money here, such as the $100,000 a year the Turnpike Authority claims it costs to provide a single rest room for 1 year. We are talking a whopping total of 80 cents. Sure, enough - 80 pennies.
Sprung, her young niece and a traveling companion were on the way home, following a funeral in Wisconsin. When they arrived at the toll booth on the Will Rogers Turnpike, a digital sign indicated the toll was $3. Sprung said she was 80 cents short. She had no checks, only an ATM card and credit cards.
After a long delay an Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper arrived in response to the toll booth attendant's call. The Tulsa World reported that Sprung asked the trooper to either loan her 80 cents or to follow her the 1 mile to an ATM machine at the Vinita exit of the Rogers Turnpike. The trooper wasn't hearing her pleas and whipped out his trusty ticked book and proceeded to write Sprung a $90 ticket for "failing to pay the toll".
To top matters off, Sprung's 6 year old niece needed to use the rest room. Sprung asked the trooper if it would be possible for her niece to use a rest room at the toll plaza. Like her earlier request, this too was refused.
This incident resulted in a firestorm of protests to the then Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. As pressure mounted and the public indignation increased several Oklahomans offered to pay Sprung's $90 fine. A local attorney offered to represent Sprung free of charge, if she wished to contest the matter in court. With public outrage growing daily and the "80 cent Turnpike Fiasco" receiving national exposure, discretion got the better part of valor and the District Attorney with jurisdiction chose wisely to drop the entire matter.
Please Note: Since the time of this incident the fine for not paying the toll on Oklahoma's turnpikes has been increased.
Singleton was stopped near Vinita, OK by an OHP trooper that claimed Singleton was driving under the influence of drugs. Singleton spent 25 days in the Craig County jail, awaiting trial and this in-spite of the fact that he tested negative for drugs following his apprehension. The Tulsa World reported on this fiasco on 9/26/98 as follows:
Craig County District Attorney Gene Haynes said a blood test
that Singleton took for common narcotics such as
marijuana, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine came up negative. In filing the charges, however, he said he is relying on OHP Trooper Alvin Lavender's account of the arrest.
"It is an unusual case because of the fact that we don't have proof of any illegal substance. But . . . we're continuing to pursue it because we feel he was under some type of influence that rendered him a danger on the roadway," Haynes said.
As word of this shameful incident spread by way of the nation's news media, attention was focused on the Craig County Court House and the trial that would determine if Singleton would spend additional time in the county jail. In response to this fiasco, local attorneys mounted a pro bono defense for Singleton and brought in a wide range of witnesses to offer proof that Singleton was neither in possession of drugs or under the influence of drugs at the time of his arrest. .
Eventually sanity and justice prevailed as District Judge H.M. ``Bud'' Wyatt III dismissed the clearly false charges against Mr. Singleton. However this 'turnpike fiasco' wasn't completely over until as a last shot Assistant District Attorney Clint Ward of Craig county complained that the Judge should have recused himself owing to the fact that he, Ward, was running against the judge in an upcoming election.
[The following is editorial comment by the editor of Bubbaworld.
Now isn't that nice?
Arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, tested and found negative for drugs and yet still charged and held in jail for over three weeks on some 'belief' that he was a danger on the roadway. It appears the only real danger on the roadway at that time was OHP Trooper Alvin Lavender, a man that can not distinguish between dangerous drugs and the herbs mullein and rosemary. If by some chance you have Trooper Lavender over for dinner, you would be well advised to hide the spices before he arrives or risk spending a few weeks in the county jail.
In the opinion of the Bubbaworld Editor ADA Ward's complaint appears as nothing more than 'sour grapes' on the part of the assistant district attorney, frustrated in his efforts to convict an innocent man and protect the reputation of an OHP trooper that evidently wouldn't recognize the parsley on his dinner plate.
And yeah, sure enough the same OHP trooper was involved in both the "80 Cent Fiasco" and the "Herbs Fiasco", Trooper Lavender - The Terror of the Turnpike.
In view of the above don't say that we didn't warn
you, Oklahoma's turnpikes, particularly the Will Rogers
Turnpike between Joplin, Missouri and Tulsa, Oklahoma can be a
source of great misery for unwary motorists that either cross the
path of 'Oklahoma's Finest' or simply require
the use of a rest room.
Rule #4: NEVER FORGET RULE #1 !!!
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