Union Centre bridge closing today for final stages of I-75 interchange work

Thousands of motorists will be detoured for five days from the $20 million construction project of the Union Centre Boulevard overpass of Interstate 75 in Butler County’s West Chester Township. Officials with the county engineer’s office announced the detour will run from 9 p.m. July 22 until 6 a.m. July 27, weather permitting. The road project is scheduled to be done by Aug. 1. (Photo By Michael D. Clark/Journal-News)
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Thousands of motorists will be detoured for five days from the $20 million construction project of the Union Centre Boulevard overpass of Interstate 75 in Butler County’s West Chester Township. Officials with the county engineer’s office announced the detour will run from 9 p.m. July 22 until 6 a.m. July 27, weather permitting. The road project is scheduled to be done by Aug. 1. (Photo By Michael D. Clark/Journal-News)

The unique diverging diamond overpass at Interstate 75 and Union Centre Boulevard is nearing completion, and there will be a five-day bridge closure beginning today so final construction can be performed.

Drivers can get off and on Interstate 75 via the ramps but cannot cross the bridge, according to Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens. The bridge deck will be closed to traffic at 9 a.m. Wednesday and reopen 6 a.m. Monday, weather permitting.

The interchange will create a “free flowing” pattern with fewer left turns and traffic signals. Separated by concrete barriers, “both sides drive on the opposite side of the road before crossing back and resuming their original pattern.

Drivers should prepare for taking a different route if needed.

“The detours will be marked and it depends on where they’re going,” Wilkens said. “You can get off the interstate, and you can get back on. If you’re coming from the south you’re going to go east and if you want to go west then you’re going to go all the way around. Is it going to be quicker to get off at Cin-Day and go back, depends on where you’re going because the detour is not that terrible, quite honestly.”

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Wilkens said there will be one more overnight closure Aug. 9 so contractors can lay the final course of paving and markings.

“Come this Monday morning you’re going to be traveling as a DDI,” Wilkens said. “Officially it won’t be open until sometime after the 9th. There will be still maybe minor clean up on the outside but the lanes themselves should be all topped out and ready to go.”

Eastbound Union Centre Boulevard traffic will detour southwest on Muhlhauser Road, east on Allen Road and north on Cincinnati Dayton Road. Westbound traffic will reverse this route.

The $20 million project was paid for entirely out of West Chester Twp. tax increment financing funds. The early estimate for the project was $14 million, but Wilkens had to revise the projection multiple times due to the construction market last year. The township is paying $6 million in cash and sold $14 million in TIF-backed bonds.

The Union Centre Boulevard interchange is one of I-75′s busiest in the Cincinnati area, serving as a gateway to a business, entertainment and shopping corridor that is a regional draw due to attractions like IKEA and TopGolf and major employers like GE Aviation. More than 50,000 travel the route daily, officials said.

Since 1997 when the UCB interchange was built, there has been more than $2.4 billion in real and personal property investments; more than 22 million square feet of retail, corporate office, entertainment and industrial development, generating more than 25,000 jobs in the Union Centre area, according to the township website.

Trustee Mark Welch said the UCB corridor is incredibly important for all three of the township’s business districts and the project was not only necessary but worth the investment.

“The reason we did the new DDI is simply because we wanted to ease the traffic, we wanted to make it easier to get on and off the highway, faster to get on and off the highway particularly in rush hour situations,” Welch said. “We believe that this is going to solve it and it’s going to open the door for additional West Chester business development in the UCB and Cincinnati Dayton area for the next 20 years.”