In 2003, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) developed strategic initiatives to implement strategies to maximize traffic flow on the state highway system and to develop a sound, effective crash reporting and analysis system for safety. As a result of data collection and analysis for these two initiatives, ODOT identified the North-Central Outerbelt section of I-270 in Franklin County (which includes the interchanges of I-270 with SR 315, US 23, and I-71) as the fourth most congested/high crash location in Ohio.
Further investigation of the North Central Outerbelt revealed that the weave areas between some of the interchange ramps, originally built in the 1960's, serve much more traffic than they were designed to handle, some as much as 68 percent over design. The conditions at these weave areas are further exacerbated by the presence of a large number of trucks which require larger gaps between vehicles to change lanes. Congestion and unsuccessful weave maneuvers in these areas contributed toward over 1300 crashes between 2002 and 2004 which cost the community over $26 million. Traffic volumes have increased over 20 percent since 2001 when the final North Outerbelt Widening project was completed.
As a result of the high number of crashes and increased traffic on the North Central Outerbelt, ODOT began developing a strategy to address the physical and operational deficiencies of these locations. The North Central Outerbelt Study built upon the I-270 North Outerbelt Corridor Major Investment Study completed by Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) in June of 1996. While this study looked at the entire North Outerbelt Corridor and considered the impacts of the North Outerbelt Widening projects, it still found that freeway improvements are critically needed between SR 315 and I-71.