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Ohio Department of Transportation

Last year was one of significant success for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) in northwest Ohio. "From major construction in partnership with our contractors to significant improvements on our highways by our own workforce, 2019 has been the year we hoped for," said Chris Hughes, deputy director of the Ohio Department of Transportation District 1, headquartered in Lima.

The Ohio Department of Transportation will invest an additional $398 million into major new projects over the next four years. ODOT's Transportation Review Advisory Council, known as TRAC, approved the final funding list Nov. 6 during a meeting in Columbus.

As part of Ohio's efforts to be a leader in using technology to improve traffic and safety in the state, construction will begin in Columbus this week on the state's first SmartLane; a 7 mi. stretch of Interstate 670 between downtown and the John Glenn International Airport.

Beginning this year, the Ohio Department of Transportation is investing a record $158 million annually into projects specifically aimed at making our roads safer. These projects include everything from additional signage to the complete reconfiguration of intersections.

Following completion of the Phase 5A of its Mill Creek Expressway project, the Ohio Department of Transportation will award two more major contracts to general contractors to complete the 11-phase project in greater Cincinnati that started in 2010 and is scheduled for completion in 2025.

A change in leadership is occurring at the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). Kirk Slusher of Lima has accepted the position as assistant director of field operations for ODOT in Columbus. As an assistant director, Slusher will oversee the district deputy directors in each of the state's 12 transportation districts, and will oversee the central office divisions of operations, information technology, facilities and equipment management.

Only a few contracts remain to be completed in the Ohio Department of Transportation's 11-phase I-75 Mill Creek Expressway project in Greater Cincinnati, an initiative started in April 2010 and valued at between $550 million and $650 million. The project is resurfacing and adding lanes to I-75 between the Paddock Road interchange and the Western Hills Viaduct and also includes improvements to the interchanges at Hopple Street, I-74, Mitchell Avenue, Norwood Lateral and Paddock Road — a stretch of approximately 8 mi.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency March 20 in 37 Ohio counties that suffered serious highway damage following severe weather that started in February. The emergency proclamation will allow the Ohio Department of Transportation and local governments to access federal emergency relief funds.

A Sunday deadline passed with the Ohio Legislature and Senate failing to reach a deal on Gov. Mike DeWine's proposal for a gasoline tax increase. Negotiations between the state House and Senate broke down March 29 and were adjourned until April 1, ensuring that the deadline of March 29 would not be met and the proposed tax increase would not take effect by July 1, as the governor wanted.

Unless serious measures are taken soon to bolster funding for the Ohio Department of Transportation, its ability to properly maintain, rebuild, and expand the state's road and bridge network will be compromised, ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks told the Governor's Advisory Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Feb.

Local government officials, local chambers of commerce, and local transportation groups are working together as part of a new advocacy organization to increase Ohio's state fuel tax and impose a fee on alternative-fueled vehicles to help generate more transportation funding.