Miller Brothers Adding Two Lanes to 12-Mile Segment of U.S. 24 Corridor

Mon January 15, 2007 - Midwest Edition
Linda J. Hutchinson

A $49.5 million contract for Phase 2 of the U.S. 24 Fort to Port project in northwestern Ohio has been awarded to Miller Brothers Construction Inc. of Archbold.

U.S. 24 is a major transportation corridor linking agricultural and industrial areas, stretching from Ontario, Canada, through Detroit, to Toledo, and westward to Fort Wayne, Ind. U.S. 24 provides access to the Port of Toledo, Toledo Express Airport and major rail carriers along the corridor.

Phase 2 of the plan is a 12 mi. (19.3 km) stretch of U.S. 24 that begins at Carpenter Road in Defiance and ends at Napoleon, according to Larry Winkleman, Miller Brothers division manager.

This project will construct two westbound lanes on U.S. 24 and reconstruct portions of the existing two lanes to expand the route to four lanes. The project also includes construction of an interchange at Ohio 281 and Domersville Road, construction of an overhead bridge taking Carpenter Road over U.S. 24, and rehabilitation of the existing Ohio 281 bridge over the Maumee River, according to ODOT.

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft broke ground on May 3, 2006, for the first phase of the plan to upgrade U.S. 24 to a four-lane highway from Fort Wayne to Toledo. Construction and re-alignment is under way on $36.7 million Phase 1 that encompasses a 2.2-mi. (3.5 km) section beginning at the intersection of SR 424 and ends at the intersection with SR 15/18. A. S. Wagner was awarded the contract for Phase 1.

Taft was joined at the groundbreaking ceremony by ODOT Director Gordon Proctor and Redick.

Construction of Phase 2 is scheduled to begin in early spring 2007 and to be completed by the end of 2008, according to Winkleman.

“With our location at the crossroads of America, our large manufacturing sector and the seventh largest highway network in the nation, the trucking industry is vital to Ohio’s economic stability. U.S. 24 is a key transportation artery for job creation and economic prosperity in Ohio,” said Taft. “Our Jobs and Progress Plan is stimulating Ohio’s economy and creating new jobs by providing every region of the state with a safe, efficient and modern transportation corridor for the 21st Century.”

Contracts for Phases 3 and 4 will be awarded at a later date.

The Fort to Port corridor suffers a deteriorating level of service due to inadequate passing zones, the high volume of commercial truck traffic, and driveway cuts and access points. Historic sites and parks adjacent to the roadway providing vistas of the scenic Maumee River add motorists interested in recreation to the already over-crowded highway.

“Keeping the U.S. 24 project a priority has been a culmination of efforts by Gov. Taft, the Fort to Port Committee and ODOT,” Redick said.

ODOT’s design strategy has been to address the problems on U.S. 24 between Defiance and Napoleon. Specific goals addressed have been to improve traffic flow, reduce travel times between SR 66 and Glenwood Avenue, improve safety along the macro corridor and to decrease the accident rate at Domersville Road to less than 1.5 accidents per million entering vehicles.

Enhancing the principal arterial characteristics of U.S. 24 while preserving access to surrounding communities and provisions for future economic growth also have weighed heavily in ODOT’s strategy.

ODOT is partnering with the City of Defiance to replace, raise and widen the SR 66 bridge over U.S. 24. There will also be modifications to the interchange. This project is scheduled to begin in 2010.

Taft’s Jobs and Progress Plan, unveiled in 2003, is Ohio’s largest transportation initiative since the original creation of the interstate highway system. The plan devotes $5 billion to Ohio’s highway network, rebuilding urban freeways and completing corridors to connect rural regions, according to ODOT.

Once completed, Ohio’s macro-corridor network will place more than 90 percent of Ohio’s population within 10 mi. of an adequate highway corridor, providing every region of the state with a modern transportation corridor. With plans to upgrade U.S. Routes 30, 33, 35 and State Route 161 well underway, U.S. 24 is one of the last links to completing Ohio’s macro-corridor system.

The U.S. 24 upgrade is a key part of Taft’s Jobs and Progress Plan, addressing high-crash locations and completing the state’s rural macro-corridors.

U.S. 24 has been identified as a macro corridor in the ACCESS OHIO plan and its importance has been recognized and identified as one of the 21 High Priority Corridors as part of the National Highway System in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991.

A part of the Jobs and Progress Plan, the Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC), was created by the Ohio Legislature in 1997 to oversee fair distribution of transportation funds. Working on a six-year advance plan, TRAC has recently approved the draft list of major new projects for 2008-2013. TRAC members will reconvene to vote on the final draft after citizen review has been completed.

Plans to improve U.S. 24 between Defiance and Napoleon began in 1962. The Ohio Department of Highways did not pursue the project due to local opposition to farmland takings and lack of funding sources.

In 1989, grass-roots efforts spawned the Fort to Port Organization, which led politicians to incorporate the Lafayette to Fort Wayne, Ind., to the Toledo area into the Hoosier Heartland Industrial Corridor. CEG

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