Road work underway throughout the Valley
By JUSTIN DENNIS
The unofficial state flower is coming into bloom.
Warmer weather likely will bring striped orange barrels and cadres of reflective-vested road workers to a roadway near you.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is gearing up for $585 million in road projects to begin this year across the state, $41.6 million of which are set for Mahoning County.
Mahoning County Engineer Pat Ginnetti said his department is preparing for more than $2.92 million in road updates and bridge repairs, the majority of which could begin this year.
Most prominent of those is the “five points” intersection of Western Reserve, North Lima and Springfield roads in Poland, a $1.4 million project for which preliminary stormwater infrastructure work began this month. Work is expected to finish in November, he said.
Ginnetti said the update changes the busy, stop-sign-controlled intersection to allow traffic to flow continuously, which should cut down traffic congestion, collisions and emissions in the area.
Austintown’s Raccoon and New Road intersection is another high-collision area undergoing a $290,000 revamp this year. The project to streamline traffic flow hasn’t gone out for bid, but it’s expected to finish in October, he said.
“If you turn left from either direction, you have the tendency to end up in the wrong lane just because of the way the lanes are staggered. We’re going to modify those and make those more visible,” he said. “It’s a minor project, but it’s a busy intersection. It’s going to probably wreak a little havoc over that short period of time.”
State and county officials revisited a call for increased awareness during “barrel season,” as road crews are more active than ever.
Last year, 14 people died in work-zone vehicle collisions across the state – including a Mahoning County worker killed along Interstate 680 in March 2018 – and more than 900 people were injured, said ODOT spokesman Brent
Ginnetti recalled a nonfatal crash years ago in which a texting driver’s car rammed a truck tailgate with its passenger side. “It essentially ripped the car in half,” he said. “Luckily, none of the guys were behind the truck.
“I always try to overemphasize: Don’t text and drive. Slow it down,” he added. “All the people you see on the road, they want to go home at night to their families, too.”
Kovacs said the number of construction-zone vehicle fatalities has decreased in the past four years, however, down from 30 deaths in 2015. Since 2009, 171 fatal crashes have been reported in Ohio roadwork zones.
“We just want to remind motorists to slow down and move over and slow down when you enter construction zones,” he said.