Ohio roadways will be more crowded than usual this weekend.
The American Automobile Association is predicting a record 49 million people, including 2.1 million Ohioans, will be traveling by vehicle for the July 4th holiday this year.
To accommodate this extra traffic, the Ohio Department of Transportation said it will work with contractors to remove as many work zones as possible and open up as many lanes as possible through active work zones.
ODOT is working on more than 1,000 projects across the state this year, an investment of more than $2 billion. Ninety percent of that work is targeted toward repairing or replacing existing roads and bridges, according to ODOT Director Dr. Jack Marchbanks.
Projects that could impact Ohio travelers are on Interstate 75 in Cincinnati, Findlay and Toledo; Interstate 271 near Cleveland; Interstate 76 in the Akron area; and Interstate 71/70 in Columbus.
Operators in ODOT’s new state-of-the-art traffic management center will be keeping their eye on more than 700 traffic cameras to ensure traffic is moving as smoothly as possible. They will also be posting traffic alerts to OHGO.com and over 130 digital highway message boards.
“We’re working to provide safe and reliable transportation as they travel through our state. We’ll do our part to make sure their travels are as smooth as possible,” Marchbanks said.
In Williams County, ODOT is replacing two bridges on U.S. 6 between county roads 20 and 23. Traffic will continue to be maintained by temporary traffic signals but will be down to one lane at both locations through the weekend. That project is ongoing through September, according to Kelsie Hoagland, ODOT District 2 spokesperson.
Other ODOT Williams County projects
• Ohio 191 and the bridge over the Tiffin River just north of Stryker between Industrial Road and County Road G remain closed at least through August. The road resurfacing and bridge replacement project has been delayed, from an original early July opening to the end of August, due to asphalt plants running behind schedule, Hoagland said.
• Hoagland said Ohio 576 will be open between county roads H and I. A culvert replacement project is behind schedule and has not begun yet, so the road remains open through the weekend.
• Resurfacing on U.S. 127 between Bryan and West Unity is ongoing through July. Lane restrictions are possible on U.S. 127 between Ohio 15 and West Unity through the weekend.
• A road resurfacing and bridge rehabilitation project continues on Ohio 107 between Montpelier and Ohio 15 through August. Look for lane restrictions on Ohio 107 through the holiday. The pedestrian walkway will be open over the bridge between North Airport Road/County Road 13 and County Road 12.5.
ODOT officials emphasize safety for both motorists and ODOT and private construction workers during the road construction season.
Last year in Ohio, 4,662 crashes in work zones occurred. Rear-end crashes are the most common type of work zone crash with speeding and following too closely being the top factors, according to ODOT.
City and county
The $1.6 million Main Street repaving project in Bryan is nearly complete, City Engineer Brian Wieland said Monday.
He said Main Street south of High Street is virtually complete, with some striping left, which could cause some intermittent lane closures over the next week.
Wieland said all lanes could be open on Main Street north of High Street by the end of this week, with just a few manhole covers and similar work left to complete.
He expects the entire stretch to be complete by the end of next week, weather permitting. The city obtained about $1.2 million in grants to help pay for the 1.5-mile project.
“We’re pleased with the progress and pleased with the project,” Wieland said.
For county roads, the Williams County Engineering Department said no county roads are expected to be closed for the July Fourth holiday weekend. But county workers currently are chip sealing roads at various locations around the county, especially in the southeast and west sides of the county, through Wednesday, County Engineer Todd Roth said Monday.
Chip sealing is an asphalt repair process in which a thin film of heated asphalt liquid is sprayed on the road surface, followed by a covering of small stones and aggregate materials. So look for signs warning of “Loose Stone,” where chip sealing has been performed, and drive carefully, Roth said.
ODOT employees have spent more than 20,185 hours assisting with cleanup from the Memorial Day tornadoes that hit various locations in southern and western Ohio. Cleanup from this unexpected weather event has cost the agency $516,274.
Though state lawmakers failed this past weekend to meet a statutory deadline for agreement on a two-year operating budget for Ohio, Marchbanks saluted the passage of the state’s two-year transportation budget that went into effect Monday. (The state’s transportation budget is separate from the operating budget.)
Without passage of the transportation budget, ODOT would’ve been forced to push back important transportation projects to help offset these emergency costs, said Marchbanks.
“Thanks to the increased funding from the transportation budget, we will have the ability to better absorb the hit that this and other emergency situations put on our overall budget, and future projects will remain on schedule,” he said.
Marchbanks noted that reopening roadways closed by flooding or debris from storms is vital to helping residents recover from weather disasters.
Since 2015, severe weather emergencies have cost ODOT nearly $53 million.
In addition, with passage of the transportation budget (House Bill 62), 22 ODOT projects in 20 counties around the state are back on schedule. The projects included $156 million in bridge painting, bridge deck replacement, minor repair work and roadway resurfacing.
The nearest one to Williams County is a $2,173,189 bridge replacement on Ohio 114 in Paulding County.