Take orange barrels in stride, they’re good for the economy


They may signal inconvenience for the driving public and may even put somewhat of a damper on vacation plans that involve highway travel. But the orange barrels that are already dotting Ohio’s roads and bridges are an economic boon that should not be dismissed. Therefore, use caution in navigating through the hundreds of construction work zones in Ohio because they represent an investment of nearly $2 billion, which means lots of people will be working.

“Ohioans deserve a reliable and predictable construction program which provides them with the highest value for their investment,” said Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jerry Wray. “This year, we will deliver just that.”

Nearly 700 projects are being or will be undertaken in Ohio this construction season, including 18 in Mahoning and Trumbull counties. The price tag for the area projects: $81 million.

The two counties are in ODOT’s District 4 that also includes Ashtabula, Summit, Stark and Portage counties. The state will spend $400 million in ongoing or new projects in the district.

Columbiana County, which is in District 11, will have $18.3 million worth of projects.

In Mahoning County, one of the largest new projects is the resurfacing of state Route 62 from Canfield to Youngstown, costing $2.4 million. New turn lanes will be added to the intersection of state Route 62 and Herbert Road. In Trumbull, State Route 45 will be resurfaced from the Mahoning County line to the southern Warren limit and from the northern Warren limit to Home Avenue. The price tag: $4.4 million.

But the one project that could create problems for motorists is the widening of U.S. Route 224 at the intersection of Market Street and the addition of a right-turn lane on 224 to provide drivers with an extra lane north on Market Street. Two lanes of traffic in each direction of Route 224, Boardman Township’s major thoroughfare, will be open through the construction period, beginning this summer and ending in November.

Township Administrator Jason Loree is right in seeking a meeting with the police and road departments to come up with ways of alleviating the traffic congestion that even in normal times can be horrendous. Loree is also worried about motorists avoiding 224 and using any township roads they can.

Necessity

But the bottom line is that road and bridge projects are a necessity, given the age and condition of this nation’s infrastructure.

Earlier this month, the state marked Work Zone Safety Awareness Week to remind drivers that caution is the key to a safe construction season.

ODOT released data that showed there were 5,038 work zone crashes last year resulting in 1,262 injury crashes and 10 fatal crashes. While those numbers reflect a decline from the year before, they also suggest that simple rules aren’t being followed.

The top three causes of work zone crashes are: following the vehicle ahead too closely; failure to control your vehicle; and, improper lane changes.

Violations of posted speed limits and other traffic laws in work areas can be a costly proposition.

To be sure, the orange barrels are an inconvenience, but they represent a much needed boost to the economy.

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