For more than eight years Interstate 77 in Summit and Stark counties in northern Ohio has been under construction. The cost of all nine contracts along one of Ohio’s major north-south interstates is more than $264.2 million.
Widening and adding lanes to both the northbound and southbound lanes is only part of the project. Also included are new entrance and exit ramps, realigning side streets to accommodate the widening project, removing center pylons from overpasses to accommodate the widening of streets under the new ramps, replacing and rebuilding bridges, and placing new noise barriers.
“When it 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 the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).
When completed, I-77 will have been widened to three lanes in each direction from the U.S. 30 interchange in Canton (Stark County) to S.R.-241/Massillon Road interchange in Green (Summit County).
The current and ongoing I-77 construction project in Stark County is a 1-mi. (1.6 km) section from just south of the Tuscarawas (SR-172) bridge over I-77 to just north of the I-77 bridges over 13th St.
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 Paula Putnam, ODOT’s District 4 public information officer.
Beaver Excavating Co. of Canton began work on Jan. 25, 2006, to replace the bridges at 4th Street NW and West Tuscarawas Street (SR-172). 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 SW exit ramp was removed and new entrance and exit ramps for southbound I-77 from West Tuscarawas Street were constructed.
The 4th Street NW bridge was replaced. Harrison Avenue was relocated to accommodate the cemetery. Additionally, a new entrance ramp to southbound I-77 from 13th Street was constructed.
Beaver Excavating Company currently is reconstructing and adding a lane in each direction from S.R.-172 to 13th Street in Canton, and making major upgrades and modifications to the mainline, ramps, service roads and bridges. The cost is $31.6 million and work is scheduled to be completed by the end of June.
This project includes “a total of five bridges being built to replace those being torn down, to allow for the widening of I-77,” said Ted Wellman, project manager of Beaver Excavating Co.
The Tuscarawas Street bridge was removed completely and replaced by a two-span bridge. That work was completed in 2006.
“Tuscarawas Street is the most heavily traveled road in and out of Canton,” Wellman said.
The biggest obstacle in replacing the Tuscarawas Street bridge, according to Wellman, was the existing fiber optic communication and telephone cables under the deck. They 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.
Great Lakes Construction Co. is widening to six lanes and doing preliminary development to I-77 from S.R. 162 to S.R. 21 at a cost of $60 million. Minor rehab work to ramps at S.R. 18 is also being completed. This portion should be completed by the end of September.
The first of the nine projects included adding two lanes and upgrading the roadway from S.R. 241 to Arlington Road, at a cost of $31.7 million. This was completed in June 2000. Kenmore Construction Co Inc. was the contractor.
In 2002, The Ruhlin Company completed the portion from the Belden Village interchange to the Applegrove overpass. Major upgrades were made, including widening the roadway to six lanes at a cost of $38.6 million.
Two portions were completed in 2003. C.J. Mahan Construction Co., added one lane in each direction of a half-mi. (0.8 km) stretch at US 62 at a cost of $26 million. 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 Ruhlin Company completed the roadway to the Akron/Canton Airport at a cost of $16.2 million.
In 2004, The Ruhlin Company added one lane in each direction, for a total of six lanes, from Orchard Park to south of the Belden flyover. This project cost $18.2 million.
Keffler Bridge/Keffler Construction completed major upgrades from US 30 to south of S.R. 172 in 2005 at a cost of $25 million. Major modifications were made to the mainline, ramps, service roads and bridges.
In 2006, Shelly Company added a lane in each direction from just north of the Akron/Canton Airport exit to south of S.R.-241. The cost was $16.7 million. CEG