Ohio Fuses Two Interchanges in Columbus

Mon November 08, 2004 - Midwest Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

In Columbus, OH, crews are working to combine two interchanges involving Polaris Parkway and Interstate 71.

When completed in 2006, the two interchanges will function as one, allowing traffic to be redistributed throughout the area. A new adjoining interchange will be built just north of the roadway at Fashion Mall Parkway.

Under the direction of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and funded by the city of Columbus, the $25 million project started in August of this year. The job is currently running on schedule for completion by August 31, 2006.

According to ODOT, the improvements are necessary to accommodate robust growth in development and traffic in the Polaris area. Between 1994 and 2002, traffic on Polaris Parkway reportedly grew 280 percent to 55,670 vehicles per day.

In addition, traffic on 1-71 saw an increase of 47 percent to 113,920 vehicles per day. ODOT noted that the improvements will address current and future traffic growth and reduce congestion and accidents.

“The city of Columbus is committed to providing support to our important jobs growth corridors,” said Mark Barbash, director of the Columbus Department of Development. “We want to encourage growth in this area, and to do so we must continue to address critical issues such as traffic congestion. This interchange will help facilitate this future growth.”

Plans are to maintain three lanes (and sometimes four) in each direction on I-71 during peak hours. Additional lane and ramp closures during off-peak hours will be necessary on a limited number of occasions.

ODOT noted that the new interchange at Fashion Mall Parkway will be completed first, allowing it to serve area traffic while the ramps at I-71 and Polaris Parkway are closed for short periods during reconstruction.

The prime contractor for the project is Kokosing Construction Co. Inc., under the direction of Kerry Hart. Approximately 45 to 50 people are currently assigned to the job.

Michael Stout, public information specialist for ODOT District 6, noted that one of the challenges with this project is that work must be timed around the Germain Ampitheatre performance schedule and the traffic needs.

He also noted, “The Park Road Bridge over I-71 will be closed in the spring. The city of Westerville informed ODOT recently that work will occur on the routes that have been designated for the detour during the Park Road closure.”

Major subcontractors include M.P. Dory, Columbus, OH, guardrail and signing; K.D. Complete Clearing, LLC, Marengo, OH, clearing and grubbing; U.S. Utility Contractor Co., Columbus, OH, electrical; Armstrong Steel Erectors, Newark, OH, reinforcing steel; W.G. Fairfield Co., Canton, OH, lighting and signalization; Trafftech, Inc., Cleveland, OH, pavement marking; Griffin Pavement Striping, Inc., Columbus, pavement marking; American Native Construction & Supply Co., Inc., Parma, OH, structural steel painting and sealing of concrete surfaces; and Judy Company, Kansas City, KS, retaining walls.