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Long-Awaited Columbus Overpass Nears Completion

Mon May 07, 2007 - Midwest Edition
Linda J. Hutchinson

Construction of a long-awaited $6.4 million overpass began last July at U.S. 33 and Ebright Road on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio, in southeast Franklin County.

“The U.S. 33 corridor has seen explosive growth in recent years,” said ODOT District Deputy Director Jack Marchbanks. “This portion of U.S. 33 sees an average of 50,000 plus vehicles a day and this overpass is part of a long-range plan to improve safety and make this corridor an interstate look-alike.”

The overpass was one of five projects identified in a November 2001 comprehensive U.S. 33 Access Management Study initiated to provide feasible and prudent alternatives to eliminate the existing at-grade intersections along the corridor.

ODOT has considered Ebright Road and U.S. 33 one of the top congested, high-crash locations in central Ohio. Over the past four years, there have been 96 accidents — more than half of these have been rear-end collisions, which are typically caused by stop-and-go traffic.

“Like all other highway construction projects, ODOT and community mayors and other local officials have had to find funding for each of the projects identified,” said Cindy Brown, ODOT District 5 spokeswoman. For this reason, funding was delayed long after the Ebright Road project was designed.

ODOT District 5 was responsible for the study and design. District 6 is managing the construction at Ebright Road.

Others identified in the study included Bixby Road interchange, Winchester Road and Carroll interchange, High Street/Bowen Road overpass, and Pickerington Road interchange. These five projects will eliminate at-grade intersections along the corridor that begins at I-270 and ends at the Lancaster bypass.

“When all of the proposed projects are complete, at an estimated total of $145 million, this 12-mi. (19 km) stretch of roadway will be a limited-access highway with interchanges and overpasses instead of intersections. ODOT will partner with local officials to apply for right of way and construction funding for these projects,” said Brown.

Work to erect support structures on both sides of U.S. 33 continued through the winter and U.S. 33 was reduced to one lane nightly from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. beginning on April 24 and ending on April 28, as crews set steel beams over the highway.

In preparation for overpass construction, ODOT removed the traffic signal and crossover at the intersection in December 2004. The signal has remained on flash and only right-turn movements have been allowed at the intersection since then. All other turn movements have been redirected to the interchange at Hamilton Road, located approximately 1.3 mi. (2 km) away.

“We’ve done everything we can to optimize the signal and make this intersection work for both local residents and commuters,” said Marchbanks. “But as residential and commercial development to the south continues to grow, so does the traffic pumping through the intersection into central Ohio. We can no longer justify the safety hazard of stopping 50,000 vehicles a day to provide direct access for a thousand cars.”

To optimize traffic flow on Hamilton, ODOT purchased and the City of Columbus installed and will maintain, new signal controllers to coordinate the timing of the eight signals along the corridor.

“We’re trying to make the roadway as safe as possible for everyone,” said Marchbanks. “We’ve done everything we can to work with the local governments and schools and feel confident that we’ve achieved the best possible solution for everyone.”

ODOT director James G. Beasley, P.E./P.S. officially kicked off the eight month-long 2007 “Signs of Change” construction season April 4, focusing on partnerships and safety. The Ebright Road project is but one of 100 highway projects and nearly 475 resurfacing and maintenance projects spanning 750 work zones statewide.

Complete General Construction Company is the prime contractor on this project, which is scheduled for completion in summer 2007. CEG

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