By JAN LARSON McLAUGLIN
BG Independent News
Summertime – the season of vacations, longer days, and often long delays or detours due to road construction.
“Orange barrels. Everybody’s favorite,” said Phil Senn, area engineer for the Ohio Department of Transportation District 2, as he told the Wood County commissioners Tuesday about projects planned in the county.
“We’ve got a lot going on,” Senn said.
Following is a list of ODOT bridge projects in Wood County this year:
- Waterville bridge replacement at Ohio 64 and Ohio 65, costing $14 million, with a completion date of September 2020. A 45-day closure of the bridge began on June 18 for construction of a roundabout on the Wood County side.
- Wooster Street over Interstate 75, in Bowling Green, with plans to convert the intersections to roundabouts, costing $9.6 million. The project, which includes redecking the bridge over I-75, and sanitary sewer and waterline work, will be completed November 2019.
- Ohio 281 over I-75, south of Bowling Green, involving a bridge deck replacement, costing $1.1 million. The bridge is open now, and all work should be completed next month.
- Ohio 579 bridge replacements over Dry Creek and Cedar Creek, costing $1.6 million, to be completed this October.
- CSX railroad bridge by the Ohio Turnpike will be demolished, costing $2.2 million, to be completed June 2019.
Road resurfacing projects in Wood County this year include:
- U.S. 20 paving from East Boundary Street to Lime City Road, costing $3.4 million, to be completed in August; a new traffic signal at Thompson Road; sidewalk extension from Holiday Inn to Heartland driveway. The Route 20 paving work is complete except for land striping.
- Ohio 25 paving from Jefferson Street to south of Roachton Road, costing $3.4 million. The paving is complete, but striping must be finished.
- Ohio 199 paving from Ohio 105 to Niederhouse Road, costing $664,000, to be complete in October.
- Route 579 paving from Ohio 51 to Ottawa County line, costing $1.6 million, to be done in October.
ODOT is planning the following intersection construction work in Wood County:
- Left turn lane to be added on eastbound Route 20 to Route 163, costing $850,000, to be completed in November.
- Roundabout on Route 199 at Carronade Drive, costing $1 million, was completed in March.
- Roundabouts on Buck Road at Lime City Road, and Buck Road at Penta Center Drive, costing $3.3 million, to be completed in October 2019.
Wood County Commissioner Craig LaHote said the roundabouts in the northern part of the county seem to be working well. “I think people are gradually getting used to the roundabouts,” he said.
Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said the roundabout at the Waterville bridge should help reduce traffic jams during busy times of the day.
And Wood County Engineer John Musteric said the diverging diamond design on Route 25 at Interstate 475 has improved the traffic flow.
“I think that has helped tremendously,” Musteric said.
ODOT is planning crack sealing and pavement patching this year on:
- Route 6
- Route 18
- Route 25
- Route 281
- Route 582
Daily operations by ODOT include mowing, vegetation maintenance, ditch work, shoulder reconditioning, underdrain identification, and wildlife relocation – a nicer name for dead deer removal.
Kasey Young, highway management administrator, talked about efforts by ODOT to set up specialized work crews for bridges, drainage and paving.
“Our county forces are stretched pretty thin right now,” Young said.
So the bridge crew has been working year-round on repaving bridge decks. The drainage crew can work on larger projects. And the “paving train” has been patching areas like Route 25 south of Bowling Green, where there are reoccurring problems like potholes.
Jeff Loehrke, regional manager with the Division of Jobs & Commerce, reported on the program that has been in existence now for five years.
“We believe all roads should lead to jobs,” he said.
The division’s goal is to find other money to leverage for road work that spurs economic development. “For every dollar we spend, we’re able to leverage $7,” Loehrke said.
At least 10 projects in Wood County have benefitted, he said, including First Solar, Ohio Logistics in Bowling Green, Cutting Edge in Perrysburg, Buckeye Broadband in Northwood, Pilkington, Calphalon, and the Home Depot distribution center.
Young also reported on local “Gold Star” groups which have participated in the Adopt-a-Highway program for at least seven years. Those include Central Joint Firefighters Association, Grand Rapids Masonic Lodge 289, and the Nemcik family.
Patrick McColley, the deputy director of ODOT District 2, also spoke with the county commissioners about a statewide initiative called “DriveOhio – the Future of Smart Mobility.” The purpose of the initiative is to allow testing in Ohio for unmanned aerial vehicles and autonomous vehicles.
Gov. John Kasich wants Ohio to become a leader in unmanned vehicle research, McColley said.