A public meeting will be held to discuss blasting during the project.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Construction has started on a long-awaited project to connect three major roads in the Mahoning Valley.
The 711 connector is slated to be a four-lane divided highway that runs between U.S. Route 422 and the state Route 11-Interstate 80 intersection. Workers have started installing a drainage pipe for the connector near the dead end of state Route 711 at Route 422.
The $24.9 million project was first proposed 30 years ago.
"711's always been that missing link," said Les Styers, the Ohio Department of Transportation's construction area engineer for Mahoning County.
ODOT officials discussed the 711 project Wednesday at a press conference to announce their construction plans for this year in Mahoning, Trumbull, Ashtabula, Portage, Summit and Stark counties.
The project is designed to improve traffic flow between Trumbull and Mahoning counties while also giving drivers quicker access to the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport and Forum Health's Northside Medical Center and Tod Children's Hospital.
ODOT also is planning to construct a road between Route 422 and Gypsy Lane, near the hospitals, as part of the project. The project also calls for crews to repave parts of Route 422 and build new bridges at Gypsy Lane and Trumbull Avenue.
Trumbull Avenue will be closed for about six months beginning in December while the bridge is constructed. In April, crews will start using explosives to remove rock near Trumbull Avenue for the project.
About 450 residents in that area will be contacted about the blasting. A public meeting also will be held to discuss the blasting at 6:30 p.m. March 27 at Girard High School.
Construction of the connector is expected to be complete next fall.
ODOT also plans to replace three bridges along the current stretch of Route 711, which will be repaved. That project is expected to start next year and be complete in 2006.