I-80: 6 miles to be widened, resurfaced
By ROBERT CONNELLY
ODOT Construction 2015
Two construction projects that have been waiting years for funding will start this year in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
One of those projects, the repaving and widening of six miles of Interstate 80 from Austintown to Liberty, has been talked about for 15 to 20 years, said officials from the Ohio Department of Transportation and Eastgate Regional Council of Governments.
“These were the projects that needed to be done and there was no way to get them done,” said Justin Chesnic, public information officer for ODOT District 4. He was talking of the actions taken by Gov. John Kasich to free up funds through the Ohio Jobs and Transportation Plan.
In 2013, ODOT officials said the I-80 project was moved up from a start date of 2020 to 2015 because of the new funds freed up by the governor.
“Around the state, it’s helped quite a few large-scale projects,” Chesnic said.
That project’s contract will be awarded in April and the completion date for the $108.4 million effort is July 2018. Officials said Wednesday they expect work to start this July.
I-80 will go from four to six lanes between state Route 46 and state Route 193/Belmont Avenue in Trumbull County. It will also include replacing six bridges.
“Of the 60,000 vehicles a day using the interstate, a third of those vehicles are trucks,” said John Picuri, ODOT project manager. “Because of that high congestion, we’re seeing higher crash rates, and in some sections we’re seeing crash rates three times the state average.”
That is why the lanes are being widened and lanes are being added, Picuri further explained. “We’re resurfacing the interstate more often than normal and spending a lot of maintenance dollars to keep it operational. One of the reasons is that this section of interstate was built in the mid-1960s and it wasn’t built for 60,000 vehicles a day.”
Officials also pointed to the state Route 164 project in Beaver Township set to begin this year as another project at least 15 years in the making. That contract is to be awarded in June, with an expected completion of October 2016 with the replacement and widening of the Route 164 bridge over Interstate 680. The total cost of that project is $5.3 million.
In all, Mahoning and Trumbull counties will feature about $205 million in total project costs for 35 continuing and upcoming projects this year.
Also in attendance was Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally. There are five ODOT projects, active and upcoming, in the city this year.
“It sort of tags along with the work that we’re doing on a variety of different infrastructure projects in the city,” he said.
McNally said his office has worked with several governmental bodies on detours for the I-80 work. “It would involve, through its three-year course, significant detours that will take people down 422 over to [I-680],” the mayor said. He also noted that ODOT is repaving U.S. Route 422 this year, from the Trumbull County line to state Route 193 as well as resurfacing state Route 289 between Himrod Avenue and the Campbell city limit for a total cost of $2.3 million.