Oklahoma motorists traveling on Kansas toll roads can have one less worry, and one less windshield sticker, following an agreement between the two states announced Tuesday.
Oklahomans with a Pikepass can transition to Kansas toll roads without purchasing a K-Tag, and the same goes for Kansas motorists traveling on Oklahoma toll roads under the agreement between the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and Kansas Turnpike Authority.
The changes are expected to take place by the end of the year, an Oklahoma turnpike spokesman said.
“This is a tremendous asset for motorists who travel between the two states and routinely take toll roads, both here in Oklahoma and in Kansas,” Gov. Mary Fallin said. “We’ve been pushing for interoperability for quite some time, and I’m excited the two states could come together and work to get all the details ironed out.”
The Kansas Turnpike is a 236-mile toll-supported road that stretches from the Oklahoma border at Interstate 35 to the Missouri border in Kansas City. Oklahoma has 10 toll-supported turnpikes across the state.
Tuesday’s announcement won’t be the last.
An agreement between the Oklahoma and the North Texas Tollway Authority in the Dallas-Fort Worth area should go into effect in early fall, the spokesman said.
The cooperation between the three states is an extension of a 2012 federal transportation act, MAP-21, aimed at improving the U.S. transportation system. MAP-21 requires all federal-aid highway toll facilities to work together for electronic toll collection by Oct. 1, 2016.
The move is supported by Dan Case, executive director of the Oklahoma Trucking Association, a nonprofit promoting and protecting interests of the Oklahoma trucking industry.
“That’s what we want to see, because it would give highways the chance to be functional with one another, eventually talking to one another,” Case said. “We want to have one Pikepass for all the states, because in the last few years, sometimes we’ve had to have two or three to get through certain states.”
Case said about 50,000 out-of-state truckers travel on major Oklahoma highway routes every day. Improving communication between states — everything from weather reports to road closures and highway conditions — will allow the trucking industry will continue to thrive, he said.
The state Transportation Department is implementing new “state-of-the-art” weigh stations that also will improve interstate communication, spokesman Cole Hackett said.
“We work really closely with the turnpike authority, mainly because their roads lead to ours and our roads lead to theirs,” Hackett said. “We have a lot of the same issues and problems. If we can find something to improve our roads, we share it with them.”
Mark Hodges, executive director of Plains Grains Inc. and Oklahoma Genetics Inc., nonprofit wheat marketing and research organizations, is excited about the new agreement.
Hodges, of Oklahoma City, said he travels on Oklahoma and Kansas toll roads once or twice a week from May to mid-October. He recently traded vehicles and had sent in paperwork to purchase a new K-Tag when he learned about the new toll agreement.
“If they unify it, it will make things much simpler for me,” Hodges said. “By having both passes, it adds one more sticker to the windshield that I would rather not have. So I am glad they are combining it.”