Standing along the Ohio-Indiana state line, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland joined Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to officially open the latest stretches of the U.S. Route 24 Fort to Port project, connecting Fort Wayne, Ind., with the Port of Toledo.
With 23 mi. of new roadway open, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is now more than halfway complete with the $402 million modernization and expansion of U.S. 24, stretching from the state line just outside of Antwerp to Interstate 475 near Toledo.
The Indiana Department of Transportation also has completed the first 3-mi. stretch of new highway, part of Indiana’s $107 million commitment to expand and reconstruct 11.5 mi. west of the state line to Interstate 469 just east of Fort Wayne.
“We are modernizing this highway not only to create a safer route of travel between these two cities, but also to establish a multi-modal corridor where goods can move efficiently,” said Strickland. “The need for Ohio and Indiana to be strong partners in transportation has never been greater. These projects are key pieces in linking and strengthening the economies of both states.”
In Northwest Ohio, U.S. 24 has become a critical shipping route with trucks representing a third of the overall traffic. By expanding the highway to four lanes, ODOT hopes to alleviate safety concerns about the mixture of truck traffic and residential travel along the former two-lane, rural highway.
“For our businesses and our citizens, the driving distance from Fort Wayne to the Port Toledo will be safer and more efficient, starting today,” said ODOT Director Jolene M. Molitoris, who was joined at the ribbon-cutting event by Ohio House of Representative Speaker Pro Tem Matt Szollosi, state Rep. Peter Ujvagi, and state Sen. Steve Buehrer.
“With these new and expanded sections of U.S. 24 now completed, our focus will continue on the completion of the final ’Fort to Port’ projects from the city of Napoleon to Toledo,” added Molitoris.
Approximately 58 mi. of U.S. 24 in Ohio is being reconstructed. In addition to the sections of new highway which were opened Oct. 29, two additional sections between Defiance and Napoleon were opened to traffic last year.
Construction from Napoleon to the Port of Toledo is under way and is expected to be completed in 2012.