Northern Ohio motorists, in their need to keep Akron and Cleveland connected, have turned SR 8 in Summit County into a pseudo-interstate highway.
“There are sections of SR 8 that have [daily] traffic counts as high as 67,000, comparable to traffic counts on the parallel I-77 in Summit County. These traffic volumes decrease down to 1,150 after SR 8 travelers get to I-271. Apparently, almost everyone is heading towards Akron or Cleveland,” said Paula Putnam, District 4 public information officer of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).
Construction began to transform “missing link” SR 8 into a non-stop route from Akron to I-271 in spring 2007.
“This $110 million project, the largest in the history of District 4 and the largest in the state for 2008 includes the removal of signalized intersections at Twinsburg Road and the addition of ramps which will provide motorists direct access to I-271 from SR 8 with no intersections,” said Putnam.
Beaver Construction Company of Canton, Ohio, began the project by hauling more than 750,000 sq. yd. (627,095 sq m) of dirt into the project area to build up the ground under the ramps and the Twinsburg Road overpass.
“That’s approximately 37,500 20-ton trucks,” said Putnam.
This portion of the project, in the city of Macedonia, village of Boston Heights, and Northfield Center Township, with a construction cost of $91.3 million (total cost of $109.7 million) began in February 2007 and is expected to be completed in July 2010.
Work to be completed in 2008 includes the creation of 11 structures, completing the Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) walls, the remaining embankment work, and the beginning of paving.
Twinsburg Road was closed at SR 8 as work began. When completed, SR 8 will bridge over Twinsburg Road and there will no longer be access on or off SR 8 to it.
ODOT and community leaders in Twinsburg, Macedonia, Boston Heights, Hudson and Northfield Center Township have received positive remarks about the construction project and the smoother flowing traffic on SR 8.
According to Putnam, ODOT has gone to great lengths while in the planning and design phase of this project to keep lane restrictions to off-peak hours whenever possible. Work on bridges has been conducted mostly at night.
Incentives have been added to beat the summer 2010 completion date. If Beaver Construction can complete the project by late fall 2009, it will receive an additional $750,000.
One portion of the project, in the city of Akron, began in May 2008 and should be completed in the fall. It includes upgrading and replacing signs on SR 8 from Perkins Street to Graham Road at a cost of $300,000.
Also in the city of Akron is on-going work that includes a deck overlay of a bridge on SR 8 over North Street, railroads, and the Little Cuyahoga River. Construction cost is $3.3 million with total costs of $4.1 million.
In the city of Stow, the project includes the reconstruction and widening of Steels Corner Road from SR 8 to the Steels Corners Road/Allen Road/Hudson Drive intersection. Also included is the reconstruction of the existing ramps at those roads. Work began in February 2008 and should be completed in September 2009 at a total cost of $5.7 million.
Widening and reconstruction of the Highland Road intersection with additional left and right turn lanes on all four points was completed first so that traffic congestion could be alleviated as soon as possible. The new Highland Road intersection was open to traffic by late July 2007.
The interchange system at I-271 was redesigned to include construction of new ramps that allow southbound motorists on I-271 to exit the interstate from the left lane to SR 8 south of the interstate. A new northbound on-ramp, just south of Highland Road, will then go westward over SR 8 and will curve around, rising up to 28 ft. (8.5 m) high, to the interstate. These new ramps will have the first of their kind noise/MSE walls built in.
“Two other noise walls are to be constructed, one between the east side of the interstate and the Macedonia neighborhoods of Blue Jay Trail, Robin Lane and Swallow and Wren drives and the other between the new off-ramp and the Northfield Center neighborhood of Shady Lane, Oviatt Drive and Kitner Boulevard,” said Putnam.
In 2008, motorists will see hundreds of feet of metal stringers being installed between the piers of three bridges that will connect SR 8 to I-271 in Macedonia. Two 800-ft.-long (243 m) bridges meant to carry northbound and southbound traffic will link I-271 to an on-ramp built in 2007 on the west side. A 900-ft. (274 m) causeway will carry northbound traffic over southbound lanes to the ramp and the northbound bridge.
Most of the work on this portion of the project will be completed by year end 2008. Included is the construction of a second raised roadbed and the bridge over Twinsburg Road.
The entire northern half of the project is scheduled to be completed by July 2010.
“The ODOT project manager and Beaver Construction are working round-the-clock to have Twinsburg Road reopened by next spring — ahead of its scheduled fall 2009 opening,” said Putnam.
Phase II, which includes work on the southern half of the SR 8 project from SR 303 north, will include a new interchange system at the Ohio Turnpike. This will be offered to the lowest bidding contractor in October 2009. Also included in the offering:
• A frontage road between Boston Mills and Hines Hill roads to provide entry onto the Turnpike on SR 8’s west side;
• A service road running north of Hines Hill to provide access to businesses on the east side;
• A northern extension of Chittendon Road to Boston Mills, which runs parallel to SR 8; and
• Elimination of direct access to SR 8.
The second phase is expected to cost around $91 million and is expected to be finished in late 2011. CEG