Drivers can expect smoother interstate travel as orange barrels are stashed away for the winter

Some projects done; others suspended till spring
Posted at 7:00 AM, Dec 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-21 05:42:13-05

Traffic should start moving a little more smoothly on portions of Interstate 71 and Interstate 75 as crews wrap up road projects.

Ohio Department of Transportation representatives anticipate work will conclude in December on at least four projects that have been underway for more than a year.

"We will be seeing and experiencing the benefits of some of that work shortly," said Brian Cunningham, communications manager for ODOT District 8.

Workers this month are finalizing improvements to the interchange of I-71 and Martin Luther King Drive, which began in summer 2014. 

The $80 million project included creating new entrance and exit ramps on Martin Luther King Drive, adding a new exit ramp to William Howard Taft Road and widening an entrance ramp onto I-71 from McMillan Street.

A $32 million project on the I-71 Lytle Tunnel is nearing conclusion as well. The project included upgrades to lighting, mechanical and ventilation systems, concrete and tile repairs and installation of cameras and a fire detection system.

Most major work on the tunnel is complete, and closed lanes on Lytle, Fourth and Pike streets are expected to be open in late December.

Contractors are in the final stages of replacing bridge decks on northbound and southbound I-71 over Eggleston Drive, Butler Street and I-471. The $10 million project is expected to conclude by the end of the month.

The fourth phase of the long-running Mill Creek Expressway project is wrapping up as well. The phase involved reconstructing and widening a 1.6-mile stretch of I-75 between the Western Hills Viaduct and the Monmouth Street overpass. Construction on the $100 million phase began in late 2012.

"All those projects were the result of studies that have been done … many years ago," said Bob Koehler, deputy executive director for the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments. "It's good to see they're actually coming to fruition."

Although the major work is done on all four projects, minor work throughout the remainder of the month may require ramp, shoulder and lane closures. The work varies from one project to another, but the final stages of such road projects generally entail guardrail work, installing signs and pavement striping.

As colder temperatures set in, work is also concluding on the current phases of ongoing projects. Road resurfacing is wrapping up between Ridge Road and Victory Parkway on I-71. That resurfacing project will pick back up in the spring. Its final two phases, which stretch from state Route 562 to just south of I-275, are expected to be complete next fall.

"Resurfacing will add some safety because of the smoothness of the pavement, and new markings will be easier to see for drivers," Koehler said.

Traffic may move smoother in some places, but in others new projects are just getting started.

An eighth phase of the Mill Creek Expressway project began this fall. Workers are replacing the Seymour Avenue bridge and reconstructing portions of the Paddock Street bridge over I-75 in preparation for improvements expected to begin in 2020.

ODOT representatives also anticipate some bridge work this winter at the interchange of I-75 and Glendale Milford Road. The work is part of a seven-phase project that began in spring 2017. 

"A lot of it is kind of just getting started," Cunningham said.

Drivers can expect heavier construction in the area in the spring, he added.

The project is expected to cost between $500 million and $600 million for all seven phases and currently entails a lane shift as well as occasional ramp closures. Those short-term inconveniences are expected to improve mobility and standardize the interchange in the long run.

"It's really meant to be a good blend of safety, mobility and congestion management," Koehler said.