U.S. 30 Construction in Northern Ohio Nears Completion

Thu August 30, 2007 - Midwest Edition
Linda J. Hutchinson



From Indiana to West Virginia, U.S. 30 reaches 242 mi. (389 km) across northern Ohio. After decades of planning and wrangling with budgetary constraints, construction to improve this route to a divided four-lane highway is nearly complete.

U.S. 30 has existed as a narrow, two-lane, heavily traveled corridor, with conditions resulting in many injuries and fatal accidents.

By 2007 year-end, only the eastern portion at County Road 330 at the Upper Sandusky interchange will not be completed, according to Rhonda Pees, public information officer for Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) District 1. That area will be “pinched down to a two-lane situation.”

A 1956-57 study of a potential realignment of U.S. 30 between Canton and East Liverpool was deemed not feasible due to unacceptable ecological and cultural resource conflicts.

Planning began in the early 1960s to improve U.S. 30 from Beaverdam in Allen County to the Bucyrus bypass in Crawford County. Improvements sought were spelled out by the Ohio Department of Highways, which preceded ODOT, “because the route is heavily traveled by commercial trucks, has many dips and curves and allows little room for driver error because of its narrowness.”

In the 1970s studies were performed by ODOT to evaluate route improvement alternatives. The project was suspended in the late 1970s due to financial constraints before an alignment plan was selected.

Planning was resumed in 1990 and culminated in December 1996, when ODOT prepared the U.S. 30 Implementation Study. The study identified tasks associated with the development process and estimated the cost for planning, design, and construction.

The primary objective was to improve it to a four-lane, divided, limited access transportation corridor. U.S. 30 was then divided into 14 segments, with seven of the segments requiring extensive construction improvements. The project progressed toward a March 1997 contract bid sale.

The Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) was created by the Ohio General Assembly in 1997 to bring an open, fair, numbers-driven system to choosing major new transportation projects, and is composed of the director of ODOT and eight appointees chosen for experience in transportation, business or economic development. Historically, the TRAC has had approximately $300 million per year to pay for projects.

A major new project to be considered by the TRAC is one that will cost ODOT more than $5 million and will do one or more of the following: reduce congestion, increase mobility, provide connectivity, increase a region’s accessibility for economic development. The TRAC’s priority is on state and federal highways, per TRAC Policies and Procedures.

The project stalled once again in January 1998, when funding shortfalls caused the U.S. 30 project to be dropped from Tier I, a list of projects which have or will receive construction funding, to Tier II, a list which allows projects to continue in their current stage of development but for which no construction funds are provided.

In July 1998, ODOT announced that the U.S. 30 project from Beaverdam in Allen County to SR 235 in Hancock County and five other projects would be funded by internal departmental savings. At a cost of $35 million, construction was completed and this 7 mi. (11 km) portion of the route opened to traffic in December 1999.

In the fall of 1998 ODOT spent $11 million to acquire 52.4 mi. (84 km) of right of way for the remaining sections of U.S. 30.

In October 2000 the TRAC released funds for the next construction phase, an 11.1-mi. (17.9 km) section between Upper Sandusky in Wyandot County and Bucyrus in Crawford County. Construction began in July 2001 and opened to traffic on Dec. 14, 2004. The cost was $75 million.

Construction began May 13, 2005, on the remaining 26-mi. (42 km) section of U.S. 30 from SR 235 to the Upper Sandusky bypass, with a bid cost of $98.8 million. The portion of the project from SR 235 to SR 37 is scheduled to open to traffic in late 2007, according to ODOT’s Pees.

The most easterly section from SR 37 to the Upper Sandusky bypass will likely be opened to traffic late in 2008. Construction of this segment is being completed by a joint venture comprised of E.S. Wagner of Oregon and Shelly Co. of Findley, Ohio.

ODOT and its predecessor have taken into consideration environmental issues including ecological resources, surface waters, wetlands, terrestrial habitats, threatened and endangered species (Indiana Bat), floodplains, and farmland. No public nature preserves, waterfowl refuges, wildlife areas or historic sites have been affected by the U.S. 30 realignment.

Also considered have been air quality, noise, social/economic/community impacts, and mine land impacts.

Only one historic resource listed on the National Register of Historic Places was identified near Segment XIII (Trump Avenue to SR 44), that being the Warren Inn located at the northwest corner of SR 44 and SR 172 in the Village of East Canton. It was deemed that this site would not be adversely impacted. CEG