The southbound I-270 Collector/Distributor Road at Route 161 on the Northeast side of Columbus was closed by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) late Dec. 7 when engineers discovered evidence of “voids” developing beneath the newly built ramp.
The voids appeared to have been created by water running through a cracked concrete curb, rather than into the drainage system, washing away soil under the roadway and causing significant erosion along the ramp’s outer concrete wall. The void, or missing dirt and sand, left a gaping hole reaching at least 8 ft. (2.4 m) under the shoulder for the right lane and large enough for at least one person to crouch inside.
More than 25,000 motorists travel this stretch of highway each day, according to Todd Sloan, manager of the office of communications for ODOT’s District 6. The I-270 CD road services traffic exiting at Easton Way, as well as state Route 161 southbound traffic. Those who would normally exit at Easton Way were being re-routed to Morse Road.
The affected portion of I-270 is part of the project known as the Northeast Expressway Transformation, or NExT. It began in June 2004 and encompasses the rebuilding of interchanges at I-270/SR 161 and Sunbury Rd. The project includes 17 bridges, 18 ramps and 5 mi. of highway, at an expected cost of $126 million.
New “fly-over” ramps will replace old “cloverleaf” ramps, allowing motorists to merge directly onto the Interstate rather than sharing an on/off ramp lane.
The project was originally scheduled to begin in 2005 but was begun earlier to complete the last of a series of projects begun in 1993. This phase is expected to accommodate development and traffic growth on the northeast side of Columbus to the year 2025 and is expected to be completed in late 2007 or early 2008.
Engineers have determined the void is isolated to the right shoulder and part of the right lane in one area only. The two left lanes on the I-270 CD Road were re-opened on Dec. 8.
Engineers with ODOT, National Contracting, and sub-contractor Shelly & Sands are working together on options to fix the void. CEG