For informational/historical purposes only.


Ohio Department of Transportation Internet News Release
November 28, 2001

Record Highway Construction Program Winds Down
 Reducing Congestion Top Priority for ODOT

Delaware The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter for thousands of central Ohio motorists who have patiently endured a record amount of construction over the past four years.

Today, the Ohio Department of Transportation announced that the largest highway reconstruction effort in history is winding down with the successful completion this year of three key Columbus-area highways. During the 2001 construction season, ODOT rebuilt and reopened stretches of interstates 71, 70 and State Route 315 ahead of schedule bringing sweet relief to construction-weary motorists.

"Over the past four years, ODOT has invested more than $400 million in central Ohio to rebuild and add capacity to our aging, overburdened highways," said Jack Marchbanks, ODOT District 6 deputy director. "While reconstruction efforts will continue in the future, it will be on a far smaller scale."

ODOT District 6, which encompasses an eight-county region in central Ohio, maintains the largest interstate highway system in the state. The district also has the second highest amount of traffic and the most truck traffic, which requires an aggressive amount of construction to maintain and repair.

Reducing congestion was also a top priority for ODOT in 2001.

"As it becomes more difficult to expand our highways to accommodate continued growth, were finding creative ways to move more people and goods on our existing streets and highways using new technology and freeway service patrols," Marchbanks said.

In June, ODOT launched the first freeway service patrol in central Ohio. The Freeway Incident Response Service Team or FIRST patrols Columbus-area interstates and major highways looking for stranded motorists, accidents or spills and helps clear them quickly. More than 50 percent of all urban congestion is caused by such incidents.

ODOT has also invested $10 million in advanced technology to reduce congestion on I-71 through Columbus. The new Freeway Management System uses weather and pavement sensors, traffic cameras, ramp meters and freeway message signs mounted over the freeway to detect and respond to slowdowns and relay real-time traffic information to motorists. The system should become operational in December 2001.

Similar freeway management systems already in use by other states have increased the ability to carry more cars and trucks on highways by 15 to 25 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"In 2001, we demonstrated our commitment to reducing congestion," Marchbanks said. "That commitment will continue in 2002 as we face record traffic growth across the region and state."


2001 Central Ohio Accomplishments

State Route 315 - Franklin County ($18 million)
In February, ODOT reopened SR 315 from US Route 33 to Broad Street. The road was closed for three years while crews rebuilt and realigned the highway to improve safety. The project is one of 15 Spring Sandusky Interchange projects: 12 are now complete. The project was completed four months ahead of schedule.

Interstate 71 - Franklin County ($52 million)
In September, ODOT completed work on 14 miles of I-71 between SR 161 and US 36/SR 37 in Delaware County. The two-year reconstruction project involved rebuilding the 30-year-old highway and adding a new lane in each direction to ease congestion on the north side. The project was completed in September, 10 days ahead of schedule.

Interstate 70 - Franklin County ($82 million)
In November, ODOT completed the two-year reconstruction of I-70 between downtown Columbus and the Fairfield County line. Crews rebuilt the 30-year-old highway and added new guardrail, signs, lighting and wider shoulders to improve safety. The project was completed 10 days ahead of schedule.

Freeway Service Patrols - Franklin County ($575,000 annually)
In June, ODOT launched the first freeway service patrol in central Ohio. FIRST, the Freeway Incident Response Team, consists of four trucks that patrol Columbus interstates and major highways. FIRSTs primary focus is detecting and clearing minor incidents, such as property damage accidents, flat tires, stalled cars and debris in the roadway. They also assist police and emergency crews with major incidents, providing a range of services from traffic control to debris removal.

Freeway Management System - Franklin County ($10 million)
In December, ODOT will launch a new Freeway Management System that uses advanced technologies to detect and clear congestion-causing incidents more quickly. The system uses weather and pavement sensors, traffic cameras, ramp meters and freeway message signs mounted over the freeway to detect and respond to slowdowns and relay real-time traffic information to motorists. The system is located on I-71 from just north of Polaris Parkway through the I-70/I-71 split.

US Route 23/42 - Delaware County ($7 million)
In December, crews will complete work on the new US 23/42 interchange, which will improve highway access to Delawares industrial corridor and reduce truck traffic through the downtown business district. Upon completion, drivers will have full access to and from US 23 and US 42.

US Route 33 - Franklin/Union County ($3 million)
In November, crews completed 15.5 miles of resurfacing on US 33 from Dublin to Marysville. At least half of the work was done during off-peak hours to limit the inconvenience to motorists.

US Route 33 - Union County ($7 million)
In July, crews completed reconstruction on US 33 from SR 256 to just east of US 36.

River Valley Schools - Marion County
In July, ODOT assisted River Valley School officials in site selection and planning road improvements for new elementary, middle and high schools within the community. ODOT examined the condition of local pavements, noting the location of utility lines that may be affected by any intersection improvements. They also studied traffic patterns and examined how increased traffic may impact area residents.