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I-71/670 Project - Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions                       
September 2, 2011


Construction Noise Frequently Asked Questions.

  1. Why is I-71/670 being re-constructed?
    The I-71/670 project is the first of several planned projects that will improve safety and reduce crashes and congestion on I-70/71 through Downtown Columbus. Work must begin on I-71/670 so that later phases of construction can handle the re-routed traffic.  Project 1 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 Avenue and Elijah Pierce Boulevard, which will improve local traffic access to the interstate and better connect traffic to local roadways in the City of Columbus.

  2. What’s 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 I70/71 interchange and I-670 interchange. Future projects on I-70/71 to the east and west will follow after that.

  3. How many vehicles travel this area today?
    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.

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

  5. Will the public still be able to use I-71 and I-670 during construction?
    Yes. It is important to ODOT that you, your customers and visitors throughout Central Ohio still be able to get where you need to go. Two travel lanes will be maintained on I-71 and I-670 throughout construction, with just a few exceptions when heavy bridge beams must be put in place during overnight hours. There will be advance notification released to the public and posted on the project website every time there is a restriction or closure. We also strongly encourage local drivers to consider other travel options, including the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) and Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission’s (MORPC) RideSolutions, or riding a bike or walking to work.

  6. How will I know where to go if the exit ramp I usually take is closed?
    We will provide extensive signage to show drivers the way around closed ramps and exits.  We will provide advance notice to the local media and regularly post updates at and on Facebook and Twitter.

  7. Why is the Broad Street ramp closing permanently?
    The East Broad exit from 670 is being closed permanently to improve safety. Since this corridor was designed in the 1960's for just half of today’s traffic volumes, it cannot safely handle the approximately 137,000 vehicles that travel through this area daily. There are about two crashes a day because of the weaving and merging from too many entrance and exit ramps within a relatively short distance. This first phase of construction, rebuilding the I-71/670 interchange and adding a new through lane on I-670, begins to fix some of that weaving and merging and eliminate the "jockeying" for position as vehicles enter and exit the highway.

    Improving this corridor means several ramps will be consolidated to improve safety and new urban avenues created to better and more safely move through- traffic as well as local traffic.

  8. When does the Long Street Bridge close?
    A firm date for that closure has not been set since design in that area is still being completed; however, it is most likely that the closure of Long Street will begin either spring or summer of 2012.

    At this point, ODOT and the Design Build Team have proposed reducing the closure of Long Street from six months to less than four months. We are still working out details. There will be at least 14 days advance notification of that closure and signage erected to help motorists and the public get to Long Street while it is closed.

    Long Street to I-71 north closed October 13th. This is a permanent closure; it will be replaced with a new ramp from Spring Street to I-71 north from Spring Street, which will open November 2013.

  9. How will the actual construction affect my neighbors and me?
    We know construction is inconvenient. There will be some noise, dust and vibrations. Kokosing, the Design Build Team contractor, will keep a clean work site to minimize this, and we will work closely with the City of Columbus to be respectful of the people who live and work in the area. Noise like back up alarms on trucks can be annoying but are safety features that save lives and are required by law to help ensure the safety of the construction workers. 

  10. Will you have to shut off water or electricity during construction?
    There will be a few short utility service interruptions. The utility companies are required to give you advance notice, and we will also keep you informed.  In the event of an unplanned interruption, the utility companies have communication protocols they follow, and they will also communicate with the I-71/670 Communications Team so we will also be able to notify the media and post updates on the project website. 

  11. What other types of improvements can we expect when construction is completed?
    We are adding aesthetic enhancements on several of the bridges as well as pedestrian friendly urban avenues, both of 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 King-Lincoln neighborhood, 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. 

  12. Why are so many ramps closing in November?
    Ramp closures help reduce traffic flow through heavy construction zones, allowing workers to work more safely and quickly and traffic to move more efficiently through the zone. Typically, most highway construction in Ohio occurs in spring, summer and fall, but for the first project, crews will be working during the winter. The Design Build Team will demolish eight bridges this winter, which in turn will allow construction of new bridges and two flyover ramps to begin as soon as the weather breaks in spring, 2012. All of these steps will keep construction moving along so that it will be completed on time in 2014.

  13. Will emergency vehicles still be able to access the interstate as needed?
    Yes. The Design Build Team is meeting with emergency responders to ensure they have the information they need to access crashes and area hospitals safely and quickly.

  14. With only two lanes maintained on 670 and 71 in each direction, how much longer do you think it will take motorists to get through this area?
    It is difficult to predict how travel times will be affected, so we advise you to plan ahead: map out alternate routes to reach your destinations, and consider leaving your car at home at least one or two days a week by taking the bus, sharing a ride or riding your bike to local destinations. You might also approach your employer about working from home from time to time, or adjusting your schedule so your commute does not occur during peak travel times in the morning and evening.

  15. Why are you closing areas south of Spring Street, which seems pretty far away from the I-71/670 interchange you are rebuilding?
    The I-71/670 construction includes some preliminary work on other areas of I-70/71. The lanes along I-70 eastbound to I-71 northbound will be reduced in order to build a drainage system that will eventually serve a longer stretch of I-71. This new system features a micro tunnel, located approximately 30-feet below ground, that will house drainage pipes.

  16. How long will this project take?
    This is a $200 million, three-year project that begins in the fall of 2011 and is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2014.

  17. What does ‘Design-Build’ mean?
    In April 2011, ODOT awarded a 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. ODOT estimates savings at $41 million over the original $241 million cost estimate.

  18. Will this project create jobs and contracting opportunities?
    Yes. Peak employment for the first phase of the project will total approximately 250-300 people working for the Kokosing Design Build Team and its subcontractors.  Some of these jobs will be new hires but the majority will provide continuing employment for a diverse workforce at Kokosing Construction Company, one of the largest highway contractors in Ohio, and at least 25 subcontractors, suppliers and/or consultants certified by the Ohio Department of Transportation as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs).  The project requires a 12% participation of DBEs, which amounts to more than $24 million in contracts.

  19. How do I apply for a construction job?
    Skilled workers for this three-year project will be hired through local union halls where open enrollments are held periodically. Minority and female applicants will be given priority for hiring.  Kokosing is a union contractor and utilizes each union’s apprenticeship program approved under the Department of Labor, Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training guidelines.  Visit the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council website for local union contact and apprenticeship program information.  Job applicants may also stop by any Kokosing Construction Company office and fill out an application but will have to become a member of the union prior to beginning work on the project.

  20. Are there on-the-job training opportunities?
    Kokosing has committed to training 32 individuals at 1,000 hours each under the On-the-Job Training (OJT) program.  The objective of the OJT is to train and upgrade minorities, women and disadvantaged persons toward journey person status.  This program is set up to improve a culturally diverse workforce and retain qualified workers.  It is the policy of the Federal Highway Administration “to require full utilization of all available training and skill improvement opportunities to assure the increased participation of minority groups and disadvantaged persons and women in all phases of the highway construction industry.”  Kokosing has always supported the OJT program through ODOT and has been recognized as a leader in the field.
Fact Sheet: Construction Zone Noise
January 24, 2012
We all know a heavy construction project such as the Columbus Crossroads project can generate a lot of noise, dust and vibrations. And it doesn’t always happen at convenient times, since portions of this project are pretty much a round-the-clock operation.
Since we’ve had questions about this from you and your neighbors, we wanted to get you some answers.
How will the actual construction affect my neighbors and me?
In order to keep the I-71/670 Interchange project on schedule, crews are working overnights and on weekends to remove old bridges. That’s when traffic is at a minimum on local streets and highways, and most of all it is safer for you and the construction workers.
There is much more to demolish in the next few weeks before reconstruction can begin.

Here are a few examples
  • You may hear a machine called a hoe-ram crunching away at old concrete as it demolishes old pavement and bridge surfaces. Some of this work occurs at night, but only when we have no other choice.
  • Pile driving (sinking metal columns for bridge supports) normally happens during daylight hours, so any noise will be heard during those hours. Businesses and residences within up to 400-500 feet away could feel some vibrations, although these vibrations are not damaging.
  • Mining work on the underground micro-tunnel is also underway and can generate considerable noise. Mining operations will occur approximately half the calendar days between now and mid May. When crews are mining, they will work 22 hours per day. The noise is mostly generated as the mining slurry (a mix of water and materials) is cleaned and separated for either recycling or disposal.
  • Beginning on or about January 29th, crews will begin demolishing the old I-670 East “flyover” bridge, which will take several days. When construction begins on the new flyover, there will be more heavy equipment and pile driving, which usually means noise, dust and vibration. While Kokosing, the contractor, will do everything it can to minimize noise and dust, some of it can’t be avoided.


How noisy will it be and what can we do about it? 

Demolition and pile driving to build new bridge supports can be loud. Depending on weather and wind conditions, noise can carry or seem louder. 

Area business and residences are advised to make sure doors and windows are shut to minimize noise exposure. Relocating to interior rooms of the home or keeping curtains closed will reduce audible noise. You might also consider turning on a fan or similar device that creates "white noise" to minimize sounds from outside. 
Will there be constant pounding?
There will be times when workers will be welding the pile together to build bridges, performing mechanical checks of equipment and changing operators. During these times, noise from the operation may be notably reduced.
Please also be aware that the vehicle back-up alarms you may hear are required by law to protect the safety of those working in the construction zone. Noise like back up alarms on trucks can be annoying but are safety features that save lives and are required by law to help ensure the safety of the construction workers.
ODOT and Kokosing, the contractor, are working closely with the City of Columbus to be respectful of the people who live and work in the area. That includes coordinating with local churches to make sure construction zone noise and vibrations don’t interfere church services or special events. Some noise and vibration, however, cannot be avoided.

Please be assured that ODOT and Kokosing will continue minimize noise to the extent possible. We will also continue to reach out through our neighborhood visits and you can follow us on both Facebook and Twitter for updates.