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Igniting Ohio’s Economic Engine: ODOT’s Historic Construction Season Officially Underway

More than $2 billion to be invested across every Ohio county, every mode of transportation

 COLUMBUS (Friday, April 9, 2010) - With investments being made in every county of Ohio and in every major mode of transportation, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is “igniting Ohio’s economic engine” with the official start of the largest construction season in state history.

 During the 2010 season, ODOT will award more than $2 billion in transportation construction projects - outnumbering investments in past seasons by more than 30 percent.

 “These investments will put more Ohioans to work building our state’s transportation infrastructure in one construction season than ever before,” said Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, who officially kicked off the state’s construction season in Columbus on Tuesday. “When you add together the projects that are already under construction and those stimulus projects made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), there will be more than $4 billion in active construction going on this summer.”

 ODOT and its local transportation partners will have more than 1,600 projects under construction this year, including more than 130 interstate projects, 300 resurfacing/pavement upgrade projects, 290 bridge and culvert modernizations, 30 pedestrian and bikeway improvements, and seven maritime projects at Ohio’s water ports along the Ohio River and Lake Erie.

 Locally, more than $76 million will be invested in 44 projects throughout the eight-county region of ODOT District 1 which includes Allen, Defiance, Hancock, Hardin, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert and Wyandot counties.

 “As stated in the ODOT 2010-2011 business plan, safety is a priority and is at the center of many of the local projects to be constructed this season,” said Leonard E. Brown, ODOT District 1 deputy director.

 The city of Lima’s Vine Street railroad grade separation project will begin this year. The project, which is being partially funded with ARRA funds, will construct a railroad underpass structure under the CSX and NS rail lines on Vine Street which will eliminate congestion and delays thus greatly enhancing access to safety services.

 On Interstate 75, median cable rail, proven effective at keeping errant vehicles from crossing the median into opposing traffic, will be installed from the Auglaize County line to McClain Road in Allen County, and from Ohio 81 in Allen County to Township Road 33 in Hancock County. An additional project will install cable rail in Hancock and Wood counties from U.S. 224 to Ohio 25.

 A relatively new concept to the region is rumble stripes which will be added to the edges of the pavement on many two-lane highways in the area. When driven over, the stripes make an audible noise which warns motorists when they are about to run off the roadway. And motorists will also see an enhancement to area traffic lights with the addition of backplates which improves the visibility of the signal.

 In addition, paving will occur on Interstate 75 this season in both Allen and Hancock counties and on U.S. 23 in Wyandot County.

  “Ohio’s historic investments in transportation are helping to ignite the state’s economic engine by creating jobs, modernizing our aging infrastructure, and giving our citizens and businesses real choices in travel and shipping,” said ODOT Director Jolene M. Molitoris. “Through these investments, we are creating a true 21st Century multi-modal transportation system that will strengthen Ohio’s competitive position in national and global markets and revitalize our cities and towns.”

 The largest project to be awarded this year will also represent the state’s largest single investment in Ohio history: the $450 million Interstate 90 Innerbelt Bridge in downtown Cleveland. Although construction isn’t expected until 2011, designers and engineers will begin work this summer on expedited efforts to replace the Innerbelt Bridge under a unique design-build contract to be awarded this fall.

 "Just as important as the number of projects under construction this year is the number of paychecks these investments are helping to write,” said ODOT Director Molitoris, who pointed to a well-studied formula from the Federal Highway Administration showing that every $1 billion invested in highways and bridge impacts 27,800 jobs.

 With more than $4 billion in active construction this year alone, Ohio’s transportation investments will positively impact an estimated 111,000 jobs, ranging from direct jobs on construction sites, indirect jobs at companies that supply materials and good for construction, and spin-off jobs that benefit from all of the investment.

 Increased construction on Ohio’s roadways will require greater attention to safety by Ohio’s motorists. An ODOT safety analysis shows 4,933 crashes in work zones along Ohio’s roadways last year. 13 people lost their lives.

 “There are a lot of variables in work zones - the cones, signs, equipment and workers. With reduced speed limits and traffic lane shifts,  it’s important to slow down and be aware of your surroundings in a work zone at all times of the day - for everyone’s safety,” added Director Molitoris.

 To help drivers safely navigate Ohio’s historic construction season, ODOT is offering the latest information on all of the construction projects in Ohio that might impact travel on www.BuckeyeTraffic.org. ODOT’s premier website offers up-to-the-minute road conditions and details on highway construction projects in every area of the state.

 For more information contact: Scott Varner,  ODOT Central Office Communications, at 614-644-8640 or Rhonda Pees, 419-999-6803.

or Rhonda Pees, ODOT District 1, 419-999-6803.