One lane of traffic on Interstate 70 in Clark County will shift to the other side of the highway as a part of the next step in a $43 million Ohio Department of Transportation expansion project.
The traffic pattern shift, which will start at 7 p.m. Friday night, will be on I-70 westbound between S.R. 72 and U.S. 68.
Two lanes on I-70 westbound will split, with one shifting to the eastbound side of the interstate and one operating on the westbound side, according to a statement from ODOT. Traffic on the westbound side will be shifted to the inside lane. The two eastbound lanes will remain open.
Motorists will continue to have access to two lanes on the eastbound and westbound sides of the interstate.
According to ODOT, some 65,000 to 70,000 motorists use that stretch of 1-70 daily.
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“What people will notice is as of Saturday, they will have shifted the westbound lane to the eastbound side,” said ODOT spokesperson Mandi Dillion. “So far construction is going well and moving forward as usual. The traffic pattern switch is taking place so they can work on some bridges.”
Traffic will remain split for about a year, Dillion said.
“We want to remind drivers to slow down and stay alert in the construction zones. Make sure you are slowing down whenever you are seeing those orange cones,” Dillion said.
The long-planned project to widen I-70 and improve safety between U.S. 68 began in July 2018 — but the project has been discussed since 2002 — as Springfield is the lone area where traffic drops to two lanes in that the stretch between Dayton and Columbus.
“This section of I-70 between U.S. 68 and S.R. 72 was the final piece of the interstate between Dayton and Columbus that needed to be increased to three lanes in both directions to improve traffic flow,” Dillion said.
The project is slated to be completed in fall 2021, Dillion said.
“As of right now, we are on track to meet our deadline,” Dillion said.
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Phase one of the project was completed in the fall of 2015. The $18 million phase one of the project, from Enon to U.S. 68, added a third lane in each direction of the 3.8-mile stretch of I-70 and took nearly a year-and-a-half to complete.
Phase two of the project, which costs $43 million, includes adding a lane in the east and westbound lanes of roadway between the 3.46 miles S.R. 72 and U.S. 68, redoing the existing four lanes and replacing six aging bridges.
Once completed, the roadway section will have three 12-foot lanes and a 12-foot inside and outside shoulder in each direction.
Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee Director Scott Schmid said previously the improvement will reduce congestion for trucks hauling freight and improve traffic safety issues.
“Hopefully it keeps interstate traffic on the interstate and away from the downtown area, especially during rush hour,” Schmid said.
The completed project should also decrease commuter delay, Schmid said.
“A pretty ordinary fender-bender on the side of the road ends up slowing everything down to one through lane,” Schmid said. “With three lanes, if one gets shut down, you still have two through lanes and it’s much, much easier to navigate. That’ll be very helpful to us.”
$18 million: Cost of phase one of the 1-70 widening project
$43 million: Cost of phase two of the I-70 widening project
60,000-70,000: Number of motorists who travel 1-70 from U.S. 68 to Ohio 72 daily
The Springfield News-Sun has been following the Interstate 70 expansion in Clark County since the project was approved in 2018.
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