ODOT kicked off its 2005 construction season with $1.3 billion in resurfacing, reconstruction and major new construction projects, including 68 projects to improve Ohio’s interstates.
The 2005 construction program is up from $1.2 billion in 2004 and $1.1 billion in 2003 thanks to additional revenue from the 6-cent gas tax, which was phased in 2 cents per year beginning in 2003.
This is the second year of Gov. Bob Taft’s 10-year Jobs and Progress Plan, the largest transportation undertaking since the creation of the interstate highway system more than 40 years ago. As a result of the plan, Ohio will invest $5 billion over the next decade to rebuild Ohio’s urban interstate networks, address high-crash and congestion locations, and complete the state’s rural macro-corridors like U.S. Route 30.
The amount of work being included in some construction projects raises them to “mega project” status, a term the industry uses to describe projects exceeding the $100 million mark.
“Ohio’s roadways were built in the 1950s and ’60s and are in need of replacement,” said ODOT Director Gordon Proctor. “Some of our highways and interchanges have outdated designs and can’t handle the traffic demands placed on them. While we’re reconstructing the highways, it makes sense to widen the roads, straighten curves and lengthen ramps.”
The Mega projects slated for 2005 include:
• Interstate 71 Corridor Reconstruction and Widening –– Portions of Interstate 71 will be widened in Medina, Richland and Fayette counties.
• Interstate 77 Canton to Akron Corridor Reconstruction and Widening –– Portions of Interstate 77 will be widened and reconstructed in Stark and Summit counties. This work is part of an eight-year, $250 million plan to reconstruct and widen I-77 from Canton to Akron.
• Northeast Expressway Transformation (NExT) –– Major reconstruction of State Route 161 interchanges at Interstate 270 and Sunbury Road in Franklin County. This work is part of a 3.5-year, $130 million project to eliminate weaving, merging, and pinch points and upgrade interchange ramps on S.R. 161 and I-270.
• U.S. Route 30 Macro-Corridor Completion –– Construction of various new sections of U.S. Route 30, including a 16-mi. stretch in Crawford and Richland counties, a 25-mi. stretch in Hancock and Wyandot counties, and an eight-mile stretch in Wayne County. This work continues the widening and relocation of U.S. 30 in northern Ohio.
• Interstate 70/Interstate 75 Interchange Reconstruction –– Reconstruction of various interchange ramps and bridges on Interstate 70 and Interstate 75 in Montgomery County. This work is part of a six-year, $145 million plan to reconstruct the I-70/I-75 Interchange.
• Maumee River Crossing –– Construction of a cable stayed bridge over the Maumee River in Lucas County. This work is part of seven construction projects on Interstate 280 between Interstate 75 and State Route 2 in Toledo. The main span project is the largest and most expensive single project ever undertaken by ODOT at a cost of $220 million. Work began in 2001 and is scheduled for completion in 2006.
More work, however, will not mean longer traffic delays. Of the 68 interstate construction projects planned for this year, all include contract provisions that restrict work to off-peak travel times, speed the pace of construction, or reward or penalize contractors for early completion or delays.
In addition, Ohio requires contractors to maintain at least two lanes in each direction during the day and on holidays on heavily traveled interstates. Exceptions are rarely granted.
ODOT will begin distributing its 2005 Interstate Construction Brochure this month at local ODOT district offices. The brochure is a good tool to help motorists plan ahead for local or statewide interstate travel.
For more information, visit www.buckeyetraffic.org.