House Bill 62 will generate more than $800 million a year in additional funding for maintenance projects and important safety upgrades on roads throughout Ohio.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recently announced that three Central Ohio transportation projects that were in jeopardy of cancelation will now move forward due to increased revenue that will be generated by Ohio's latest transportation budget.
The budget bill, House Bill 62, was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by DeWine earlier in April. The bill will generate more than $800 million a year in additional funding for maintenance projects and important safety upgrades on roads throughout Ohio.
The Central Ohio projects include three future phases of the Columbus Crossroads project that will reconfigure the I-70/I-71 interchange through downtown Columbus to decrease congestion and reduce crashes. Several phases of the project are already finished, but the new funding ensures that these future phases of the project will eventually be complete.
"This interchange was built in the 1960s, and Columbus has long outgrown it," said DeWine. "Right now, drivers are traveling on a highway system that wasn't built to handle the number of cars that travel in and out of Columbus today. Now that these three phases of the Columbus Crossroads project will proceed as planned, we can look forward to a safer interchange in the future."
The future phases of the Columbus Crossroads reconstruction and reconfiguration plan, which are expected to be completed by the end of 2024, include:
- Reconstruction and widening of I-71 from Broad Street to Long Street. This $43.8 million project is expected to begin in about a year. This project also widens part of I-71 northbound and replaces the Broad Street Bridge to make it more pedestrian-friendly and to reconnect neighborhoods that were separated when the interstate was built.
- Reconstruction of I-70 eastbound and I-71 northbound. This $103.6 million project is expected to begin in about two years. The project includes building a new ramp from 70 east to Fulton Street to create a new eastbound gateway to downtown. The project also replaces the Front Street Bridge. At the completion of this phase, there will be two continuous I-71 north lanes through downtown.
- Reconstruction I-70 westbound and I-71 southbound. This $107.2 million project will begin in approximately three years. This phase will construct a new ramp from Mound Street to 70 west and a new ramp from Mound Street to 71 south.
"Without the funding provided in House Bill 62, these phases could have been delayed for years or permanently put on hold," said Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks. "These next three phases are essential pieces of the puzzle and will make a meaningful reduction in traffic crashes through this notoriously congested stretch of interstate."
DeWine's announcement was made at a gathering to launch the construction of the current phase of the I-70/I-71 Columbus Crossroads project. This phase will reconstruct and widen I-70 east from Fourth Street to Miller Avenue. It also will construct a new ramp from I-70 east to Parsons Avenue to provide improved, safer access to Nationwide Children's Hospital and area neighborhoods. This phase is estimated to cost $80 million and will take approximately 2.5 years to complete.
The projects have all been reviewed and approved by the nonpartisan Transportation Review and Advisory Committee.