Tourist irate over charges

Thursday, 16 July 2009
Tulsa Today received the following letter from one of our readers.  Livid, she wrote:  My husband and I just returned home from vacation in which we found ourselves driving through Oklahoma.

Living in Arkansas I was aware that I would be charged for the "privilege" of driving through your state, however, I was not aware that I would be charged twice for that "privilege" and then charged even more if I found myself in need of a restroom!"

Come on Oklahoma, do you need money that badly??  I feel bad for the people of Oklahoma; travelers from all over the country pass through your state and this is all they remember of their experience, not the nice people, just that they had to "pay to pee."

Your state seems very unfriendly and I’m sure that’s not the impression that you want people to have.

I know for myself, I absolutely refused to purchase gas, food or as much as a stick of gum until I reached Texas and I’m sure I’m not the only traveler who feels that way.

Look at all the tourism money and taxes that you are not getting because you tick folks off with your ridiculous toll roads!

I’m sure that some of you are thinking, "yeah, just some "outsider" griping about the toll roads", but the truth of the matter is, I was born 43 years ago in Midwest City, Oklahoma.

My folks lived in Midwest City and Moore for several years and they have fond memories of Oklahoma.  It’s too bad that the only memories that my children have is having to "hold it in" till their bladders hurt!

While there are toll charges on many of the incoming and outgoing freeways (prepare to have cash available) Tulsa Today contacted the Oklahoma State Department of Transportation’s Media Office to inquire about the fee to utilize bathrooms along the toll road.

Media representatives indicated that restrooms along the turnpike were not the department’s responsibility.

They are, however, in charge of restrooms along state roads. Media representatives assured us that they are indeed free–as well as access to several key visitor centers, two on the Texas side and one on the Arkansas side.

To get to the bottom of this, the Oklahoma State Department Media Representative referred us to Jack Damrill, Public Information Officer with the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

He stated, “I know she was not charged to use the restrooms on our turnpike.  I’d like to know where it was so we can do some investigation.”

Damrill states that there is one stop on the Will Rogers Turnpike and that is a port a potty.

"We also have three of those on the Indian National Turnpike. They are the same way,” he said. “They are free. Those are the only four that we operate and we don’t charge to use them.”

He continued, "Port a potties along those turnpikes are for emergency purposes only.  There are some other restrooms that are on the turnpike, but they are operated by the associated businesses. We are not aware of any charges associated with them."

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is investigating the matter further.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 21 July 2009 )