Eight years, nine phases, and $264.2 million later, the ninth and final phase of the Ohio Department of Transportation’s I-77 project is scheduled for completion this month.
The project in Summit and Stark counties in northern Ohio links Canton and Akron with Cleveland. The cost of this phase of the project is $63.3 million.
“The total length of the project is 8.5 miles, extending from just north of the V. Odom Boulevard interchange to one mile north of the SR 18 interchange,” said Paula Putnam, ODOT’s District 4 public information officer.
“When it [I-77] was originally constructed in Summit and Stark counties during the late 1950s and early 1960s, some sections were designed to manage approximately 23,000 vehicles per day. Now, with the dramatic growth in the region and the increase of interstate traffic, portions of I-77 already handle more than 80,000 vehicles per day,” according to a 2006 ODOT press release. This portion of roadway now carries 90,000 vehicles per day.
ODOT broke ground on the final phase of the I-77 reconstruction project in May 2006 with the goal of reducing congestion and improving safety. The widening and reconstruction of I-77 from four to six lanes and the reconstruction of nine bridges will accomplish both.
According to Putnam, the project’s scope includes “widening and reconstruction of I-77 from SR 162 [Copley Road] to SR 21. Reconstruction of the Ridgewood Road, Pickford Avenue pedestrian bridge and the Brunsdorph Road bridges. Also included are the reconstruction of the ramp from I-77 northbound to SR 21 southbound and the resurfacing of I-77 in Copley and Bath townships. Noise wall construction in various locations between V. Odom Boulevard and Cleveland-Massillon Road will also be incorporated into this project.”
In the city of Canton in Stark County, “simply widening each side of I-77 with an additional lane at its current location was not possible because of the cemetery that is located on the east side of the project’s right of way. Instead, engineers had to design the widening by moving the entire roadway a short distance to the west. As a result, a portion of Harrison Avenue was realigned to accommodate the widening of I-77,” said Putnam.
Several bridges, entrance and exit ramps, and a pedestrian bridge were closed for contractually-specific periods of time.
A minimum of two lanes in each direction have remained open during all phases of the project. Reducing to one lane each way has been restricted to off-peak night-time hours only.
“ODOT worked closely with community leaders to coordinate the project, which stretches through four separate, local jurisdictions. Local representatives served on an aesthetics committee to ensure the communities’ character would be reflected through the project. As a result, new noise barriers were constructed, depicting significant landmarks from the region such as the Soap Box Derby and the Goodyear Blimp,” according to Putnam.
Other phases of the I-77 project included:
• The Tuscarawas Street bridge (SR 172). It was removed completely and replaced by a two-span bridge. That work was completed in 2006. The biggest obstacle in replacing the Tuscarawas Street bridge was the existing fiber optic communication and telephone cables under the deck, which could not be removed or re-routed.
A temporary bridge structure was built over the existing bridge to lift and hold in place the cables that are now between the beams under the bridge deck. Crews then cut away the deck, built temporary support cables, tore out the remainder of the bridge, repositioned the cables and then dropped the old cables into the new bridge.
Reconstructing and adding a lane in each direction from SR 172 to 13th Street in Canton, and making major upgrades and modifications to the mainline, ramps, service roads and bridges.
• Reconstruction of a 1-mi. section from just south of the Tuscarawas (SR 172) bridge over I-77 to just north of the I-77 bridges over 13th Street.
• Replacement of the bridges at 4th Street Northwest. They were replaced because they were not long enough to accommodate the additional lanes. The new ramps are longer to provide easier access to and from I-77.
• The 6th Street Southwest exit ramp was removed and new entrance and exit ramps for southbound I-77 from West Tuscarawas Street were constructed.
• Widening to six lanes and doing preliminary development to I-77 from SR 162 to SR 21. Minor rehab work to ramps at SR 18.
• The first of the nine projects included adding two lanes and upgrading the roadway from SR 241 to Arlington Road. This was completed in June 2000.
• Completion of the portion from the Belden Village interchange to the Applegrove overpass. Major upgrades were made, including widening the roadway to six lanes.
• One lane was added in each direction of a 0.5-mi. (0.8 km) stretch at U.S. 62. The company replaced bridges over Harrison Avenue and the CSX rail line, and did major upgrades to include modifications to the mainline, ramps and service roads. The roadway to the Akron/Canton Airport was completed.
• A lane in each direction was added from just north of the Akron/Canton Airport exit to south of SR 241.
• One lane in each direction was added for a total of six lanes, from Orchard Park to south of the Belden flyover. Major upgrades were made from U.S. 30 to south of SR 172. Major modifications were made to the mainline, ramps, service roads and bridges. CEG