The gap between Fort Wayne and the Port of Toledo is getting smaller. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) held a ceremonial groundbreaking June 14 in Antwerp to begin the latest construction projects in expanding U.S. Route 24 through Paulding, Defiance and Henry counties.
Joined by local officials and community members along the corridor, ODOT Director James Beasley and ODOT District 1 Deputy Director Tim Burkepile detailed construction plans to improve U.S. 24 to a four-lane highway from Ft. Wayne, Ind., to Toledo.
U.S. 24 has become a critical shipping route, with trucks representing a third of the overall traffic. This expansion should alleviate safety concerns about the mixture of truck traffic and residential travel along the currently two-lane, rural highway.
“Even more than improving safety and mobility, ODOT’s highway projects contribute to economic development and job creation,” Beasley said. “Projects like the Fort to Port Corridor have the potential to generate the long-term, high value jobs our state must support, as we work together to turnaround Ohio.”
Work began earlier this spring on the sections between the cities of Defiance and Napoleon, and from U.S. Route 127 to State Route 424. Construction on the segment from the Indiana line to U.S. 127 in Paulding County was scheduled to begin June 18.
“With several miles of construction under way at once, this is truly a unique time in transportation history for this region,” said Burkepile. “A four-lane U.S. 24 will transform our highway system in northwest Ohio and open this area for countless opportunities.”
Construction on a 2.2-mi. (3.5 km) section of U.S. 24 from SR 424 to just east of State Route 15 west of Defiance is in its second year and is scheduled to be complete in 2008. Construction on the four remaining U.S. 24 projects from Napoleon to Toledo is currently scheduled to begin in the spring of 2008 and 2009.