The next director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority will be responsible solely for that agency.
Albert C. Kelly, chairman of the Turnpike Authority, said Friday the agency hopes to name a new director by April to succeed Gary Ridley, who will stay on the governor's Cabinet as secretary of transportation.
Ridley is director of the Turnpike Authority and director of the state Transportation Department. He announced in December he will retire from both positions March 31.
“We'll have a single individual running the OTA and a single individual running ODOT,” Kelly said.
Ridley has served as director of both agencies since 2009. In the 1990s, Neal McCaleb also served as director of the Turnpike Authority and the Transportation Department, as well as a Cabinet secretary of transportation.
Authority members met in a closed session to discuss plans to find a director to succeed Ridley.
“We would very much like to have a selection made by the time Mr. Ridley has departed,” Kelly said.
Kelly said the authority doesn't plan to advertise for the post. Ridley, who has been the Transportation Department's director since 2001, is known nationally in the highway industry and word has spread about his retirement.
Kelly said the authority is not planning at this time to hire a firm to help with the search.
In other business
Before going into the closed session, authority members heard a construction update on work to widen a stretch of the Creek Turnpike in Tulsa.
Work to widen seven miles of the toll road is about 40 percent complete. The contract calls for work to be completed by August, but it could be complete sooner.
Sherwood Construction submitted the lowest bid for the work with $58.8 million. One lane in both directions inside the Creek Turnpike from U.S. 75 to Memorial Drive is being added.
Authority members approved a change order of nearly $1.3 million that would pay for installing a wall on the westbound lanes near the Yale exit. The concrete wall, molded and painted to look like a stone wall, is designed to help block out sound from the roadway to a nearby neighborhood.
Another wall will be built along the roadway in Jenks next to a proposed subdivision. The work was not included in the original bid; it's expected to cost less than the Yale exit wall, said Tim Stewart, the Turnpike Authority's deputy director and chief operating officer.