Dayton-to-Columbus I-70 bottleneck getting $43M fix

The state will begin a $43 million project later this year on a three-and-a-half mile stretch of Interstate 70 in Clark County to alleviate one of the biggest bottlenecks in western Ohio.

RELATED: $8.8 million Main Street bridge project to disrupt traffic into fall 2019

“I-70 will be six lanes from Dayton to Columbus, completing the Dayton to Columbus corridor,” said Scott LeBlanc, Ohio Department of Transportation District 7 construction engineer. “That’s typically where we have our issues with congestion as well as potential traffic incidents.”

Ohio Department of Transportation officials stopped in Dayton Thursday morning to draw attention to the start of a new construction season — one that will see near-record spending, including $43 million for the I-70 widening project between U.S. 68 and Ohio 72 south of Springfield.

In all, ODOT will spend about $2.35 billion on 959 projects across the state, 28 considered major, officials said.

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LeBlanc said bumping up the highway from four lanes to six lanes along the remaining piece of I-70 in Clark County will allow traffic to flow smoother, ease snow and ice removal and improve safety. But he said the interstate there — used by 65,000 to 70,000 motorists a day — will likely remain congested through the work’s completion in September of 2021.

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“This is going to be a multi-season project and the traffic is going to be maintained in a variety of traffic patterns,” LeBlanc said.

About 90 cents of every dollar ODOT spends this year will be for preserving roads and bridges already in place, said ODOT Director Jerry Wray earlier. The projects encompass the repair or replacement of 5,645 miles of pavement and work on 1,045 bridges.

“Roads and bridges don’t get better over time,” Wray said. “We’re using better data and more frequent maintenance to address the small issues with our infrastructure before they become big issues.”

Following completion of the Interstate 75 modernization plan through downtown Dayton, more money regionally is also being directed to upkeep, LeBlanc said.

“The district is transitioning to a preservation strategy,” he said. “So we will be selling projects that sustain and maintain our strong infrastructure that currently exists. To that end we have a very robust program this year.”

The two largest projects in Montgomery County this year are both bridge superstructure replacements: the $7.58 million Main Street bridge project in Dayton and the $5.3 million Arlington Road bridge over Interstate 70 at Brookville.

In the Dayton region, completion of the I-75 modernization project downtown has allowed District 7 to also turn toward repairing and updating existing roads and bridges, LeBlanc said.

This year, 88 projects costing $142 million are scheduled to start in District 7 which includes Auglaize, Champaign, Clark, Darke, Logan, Mercer, Miami, Montgomery and Shelby counties.

The two largest spending years were 2014 and 2015 when about $2.4 billion was spent each year. Since 2011, ODOT has invested $16.4 billion into 7,918 projects. ODOT is responsible for maintaining 43,211 lane miles of roadway and 14,095 bridges. The nation’s fourth-largest interstate system by lane miles supports about 6.5 million jobs in the state, according to ODOT.

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