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Why is I-71/670 being rebuilt?

1.     Why is I-71/670 being re-constructed?

The reconstruction of I-71/670 is the first phase of a much larger transportation project that will g, improve safety, relieve congestion, and reconnect local communities and neighborhoods. Once complete, improving the I-70/71 corridor will have a profound impact on central Ohio’s economy and mobility for local families and businesses seeking to create jobs and move goods from the factory floor to the global marketplace

The I-71/670 project includes 1.8-miles of interstate, 22 new bridges and 28 new retaining walls. It also begins the creation of two new urban avenues, Lester Drive and Elijah Pierce Boulevard, which will improve local traffic access to the interstate and better connect neighborhoods in the City of Columbus.

2.     How many crashes are there in this area? Why?

There is an average of 500 crashes a year in the I-71/670 project area because there are too many vehicles and too many exit and entrance ramps within a short distance. Those conditions are not safe and lead to crashes.

There are approximately 137,000 vehicles that travel through the I-71/670 corridor every day. When built in the 1960’s, the roadway was built to handle just half that many vehicles.

3.     What is the status of the other projects on I-70/71?

Projects 2 and 3 are currently being designed.  Project 2 will replace the existing I-70/71 east interchange. Project three will fix the stretch of I-71 between the I-70/71 interchange and I-670 interchange. Future projects on I-70/71 to the east and west will follow after that. However, the Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) recently announced a severe shortage in funds compared with the number of worthwhile transportation projects around the state. While the I-71/670 project is fully funded and will not be affected by this announcement, future construction phases of the Columbus Crossroads project will likely be postponed for several years unless funding becomes available.

4.     What type of safety improvements can we expect when the I-71/670 project is complete?

An additional lane will be added for I-670 east through traffic, which will help reduce the weaving and merging that can lead to crashes. There is also an additional lane in both directions on I-71. On bridges there are wider sidewalks and improved lighting which improves pedestrian mobility.

5.     What other types of aesthetic improvements can we expect when construction is completed?

We are adding aesthetic enhancements on all bridges as well as pedestrian friendly urban avenues, which will improve neighborhood connections. The project also features a one-of-a kind “cultural wall” that will reflect the history and character of the Bronzeville area, as well as new public green space on the Long St. Bridge. Our design to date has been improved because of your public input and our partnership with the City of Columbus and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.  

6.     This is a ‘Design-Build’ project. What does that mean?

 

In April 2011, ODOT awarded the contract to the Kokosing Construction Company/CH2M Hill Team to design and re-construct the I-71/670 interchange, one of Ohio’s largest “Design-Build” highway construction projects.

 

This innovative contracting approach combines engineering design and construction into a single contract, allowing ODOT to improve operational efficiency and save time and money. For example, this project will be completed in 37 months, nearly six months ahead of schedule. It also enables the Design Build Team to offer innovative, cost-saving ideas. One such idea will reduce the closure needed to rebuild the Long Street Bridge from six months to just one week. ODOT estimates savings at $41 million over the original $241 million cost estimate.

 

7.     When will the reconstruction of I-71/670 be completed?

 

This three-year project begins fall, 2011 and is scheduled for completion in 2014.