The Oklahoma Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing to review bonds for contested turnpikes in two lawsuits and asked attorneys to file written arguments, according to an order issued late Tuesday.

The court order seeks arguments in a lawsuit filed in May against the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority by opposition group, Pike Off OTA. The agency announced a $5 billion, 15-year long-range expansion of the state’s turnpike system Feb. 22.

The lawsuit accuses the agency of not following proper bond procedure and lacking the legislative authority to build a proposed toll road in the Lake Thunderbird Watershed.

OTA maintains previous decisions by the state Supreme Court authorized building turnpikes in phases and that the east Norman turnpike is included in the 1987 bill along with other toll roads.

While the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the lawsuit, it remains in Cleveland County District Court. Justices have asked OTA and Pike Off attorney Rob Norman to submit written arguments.

The order requires attorneys to file their briefs by Nov. 18, just 10 days before the Supreme Court will hold a bond validation hearing to determine if the agency can issue bonds. That hearing has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Nov. 28, Norman said.

“That is a rare thing, it’s exceedingly rare,” Norman said of oral arguments in front of Supreme Court justices.

Norman said his argument about proper bond procedure has not been argued before. He contends OTA should have built all of its planned turnpikes since 1987 under one bond issuance.

The attorney has said if the court agrees, it would mean the proposed east Norman turnpike, one along Indian Hills Road, and another connector from the Kilpatrick Turnpike to Interstate 44 cannot be built.

Norman has also argued the proposed toll road in the lake watershed is not described in a bill which authorized other turnpike projects. The legislature must approve all new turnpikes, according to state law.

Norman’s lawsuit, and a second one attorney Stan Ward filed against OTA over open meeting act violations, has not been stayed by the high court, The Transcript reported last month.

The state Supreme Court’s order Tuesday also did not state that it would remove those cases from district court.

The move assumes only jurisdiction as it relates to the bond validation hearing, Norman said.

“They are taking a look at legal issues which would be before them, but they’re letting district cases move forward in the meantime,” he said.

Mindy Wood covers City Hall news and notable court cases for The Transcript. Reach her at mwood@normantranscript.com or 405-416-4420.

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