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…
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Motorists who already find the Waterville bridge over the Maumee River to be a headache will want to steer clear of the area starting next week. The bridge between Wood and Lucas counties will be closed starting Monday, June 11, for an estimated 45 days. During that time, the three-way stop on the Wood County side of the bridge will be turned into a roundabout. “Everything is weather dependent,” said Kelsie Hoagland, public information specialist with ODOT District 2. “I think they built that schedule with that in mind.” The Ohio Department of Transportation is replacing the structure with a wider bridge. The project will also include the installation of the roundabout at the Ohio 64-Ohio 65 intersection in Wood County, plus dedicated left turn lanes in both directions at the Ohio 64/Mechanic Street and River Road intersection on the Waterville side. The new bridge will have one 12-foot driving lane in each direction with 4-foot shoulders; one protected 12-foot shared use path on the north side/downstream; and one protected 7-foot sidewalk on the south side/upstream. The bridge will also have five observation platforms, lighting and see-through railings. The decision to build the new bridge south/upstream of the existing structure was based upon multiple factors including environmental and historical considerations, cost, public opinion and length of closure, according to ODOT. The project is being built for $13 million by Miller Brothers Construction Inc. The physical work on the site began in February with the clearing of trees and building a portion of the causeway from the Wood County side. The roundabout construction is scheduled to be complete by August. Then in 2019, the building of the bridge from the Lucas County side will start. The bridge is expected to be completed in the fall of 2019. A weekend closure will be needed, from 7 p.m. on a Friday to 6 a.m. on a Monday, to complete the pavement tie-in of the new bridge. Demolition of the old Waterville bridge is expected to be completed in the fall of 2020. According to ODOT, the bridge closure this summer was scheduled to accommodate school schedules. Roads will be open for the annual Roche de Boeuf Festival in Waterville, and the Applebutter Festival in Grand Rapids. And access to homes along the project will be maintained during the project. ODOT’s plan is to construct and remove half the bridge at a time in order to maintain half the river for marine traffic.
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News U.S. 6 offers few challenges to drivers. It’s about has flat and straight as they come. But the route that stretches east-west just south of Bowling Green is the site of many fatal crashes. “It’s the number one deadly killer road in Wood County,” said Sandy Wiechman, coordinator of Wood County Safety Communities. In the past three years, there have been 18 fatalities on Route 6 in Wood, Henry and Sandusky counties. During that same period, there have been 252 injuries and 745 property damage incidents on the roadway. So the route is now the focus of “Safe 6 Initiative,” which will coordinate law enforcement agencies to target aggressive driving behaviors on Route 6. The top causes for crashes on the route have been identified as failure to yield, failure to keep assured clear distance, going left of center, unsafe speeds, and improper passing. Route 6 is the second largest federal highway in the U.S., second only to U.S. 20, Wiechman said during a gathering Tuesday of area law enforcement, Ohio Department of Transportation and AAA officials. On its route from California to Massachusetts, Route 6 travels across Ohio farmland in the west, up to Lake Erie, and then through wooded areas of Ohio’s east. “It cuts through the heartland of Ohio,” Wiechman said. The roadway is used by many area residents for their daily commutes. Traffic increases in the summer, as motorists use the route to get to Lake Erie or other vacation destinations. Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Angel Burgos, of the Bowling Green post, said Route 6 is known for being a dangerous road, high in fatalities. Burgos has had to make death notifications to families of the victims. “The driving behavior just needs to change,” he said. “Hopefully, we can make Route 6 a lot safer this summer.” The high number of crashes on the route is a “head-scratcher,” according to Staff Lt. Jerrod Savidge, of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “It’s straight. It’s flat. It’s kind of a boring drive,” Savidge said. Many of the crashes are caused by drivers failing to yield or going left of center. Edgar Avila, president and chief executive officer of AAA, is working with local law enforcement on the traffic safety initiative. More than 90 percent of vehicle crashes are caused by human error, he said. “AAA is happy to partner with Wood County Safe Communities,” Avila said. One of the focuses will be to take away distractions when driving. “AAA is asking drivers to put away devices and just drive,” Avila said. Wiechman agreed. “It does only take one time,” for a crash to occur. “We need to buckle up, hang up and heads up.” Drivers stopped on Route 6 will be handed safety information. Tips for avoiding potential crashes for those in passenger cars: Obey all traffic control devices. Follow the speed limit. If the weather is hazardous, adjust your speed accordingly. Always wear your seatbelt. Leave two to three car lengths between you and the car in front of you. Stay focused on your driving. To avoid crashes with commercial vehicles: Remember, if you cannot see the driver, they cannot see you. Allow for safe lane change. Maintain a safe distance. Be patient. Allow extra space for stopping.
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News For a state route, Ohio 582 north of Bowling Green is uncommonly narrow. So the Ohio Department of Transportation has plans to fix that problem. But like so many issues, correcting one problem creates another. ODOT plans to widen 3.5 miles of Route 582 from Mercer Road in Middleton Township to about 1,000 feet east of Ohio 199 in Webster Township. While that project will be an improvement for motorists, the widening plan is causing some concerns for those who live along the roadway. But ODOT spokesperson Rebecca Shirling said some of the concerns are unfounded. The “myth” that ODOT will need to take the church in Dunbridge for the widening is false, she said. However, ODOT will need to take down one block commercial building near the intersection of Dunbridge Road, plus one house and two sheds further east on Route 582. A meeting was held earlier this year to explain the project to landowners along the route. Many had questions about the effect of the widening on their properties. “Once we explained it, most of the people were OK,” Shirling said. Another meeting was held this past week by a law firm that specializes in eminent domain law. Megan O’Neill, from the Krause & Kinsman Eminent Domain Law Firm, said about five landowners along Route 582 attended the meeting. They had concerns about the loss of their front yards and farmland, plus worries about construction so close to their homes. Because of the ditch on the south side of Route 582, most of the widening will take place on the north side of the roadway. “There’s essentially no shoulder on Route 582,” Shirling said. The lanes are 11 feet wide now, compared to the 12-foot standard for state routes. “For being a state route, it is pretty narrow,” she said. “It feels tight when you’re driving it,” with the guardrail right on the edge of the lane of travel. ODOT’s plan is to add four-foot shoulders on both sides of the road. Because of the ditch, most of that additional space will come from the north side of the road, except when it gets close to Route 199. Much of Route 582 was sporadically patched during the Interstate 75 construction, so this project will allow for the entire portion from Mercer to Route 199 to be repaved, Shirling said. Also, the Route 582 bridge over Packer Creek is deteriorating and is proposed for replacement, along with replacement of the deck of the Carter Road bridge over Packer Creek. The I-75 ramps that were rebuilt during the I-75 widening will not need to be changed, Shirling said. The project is expected to cost approximately $5 million. The construction project is planned for April through November of 2019. Route 582 will be closed to through traffic during the project. Shirling said ODOT will work with residents and businesses to keep them informed about access to their properties.
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Drivers in this part of the state have become very accustomed to encountering orange cones the last few years. As the Ohio Department of Transportation worked to widen Interstate 75 from two to three lanes, it became commonplace for drivers to have to maneuver around construction zones. That may have helped lead to some of the 6,000 work zone crashes in Ohio last year, according to Rebecca Shirling, spokesperson for ODOT District 2 in Bowling Green. So as a reminder to drivers to slow down in work zones, ODOT placed a display at the northbound rest area on I-75, just south of Bowling Green. The display represents 26 workers who were killed last year statewide in road work zones. That includes ODOT workers, tow truck drivers, law enforcement and utility workers. “These are people who didn’t go home,” Shirling said. “It’s frustrating waiting in traffic sometimes, but we forget these people had families to go home to.” The display is intended to be a stark reminder of the consequences of not paying attention. “We’ve had so much construction that people are becoming numb to it,” Shirling said. “We had a lot more work zone crashes. We had a larger construction zone than previous years.” Though message boards are being used to stress the reduced speed limits, they don’t always result in drivers slowing down. “A large percentage were people following too closely or being distracted by the work going on,” Shirling said. ODOT is working more closely with law enforcement and emergency responders to get roads open as soon as possible after crashes, so backups are reduced. And speed limit signs are being posted in work zones that aren’t active, to let drivers know they don’t need to slow down needlessly. Extra safety precautions are also being used for night crews, including halo lights on their helmets, and reflective markers on their sleeves and pantlegs. Night crews benefit from lighter traffic, but are at greater risks due to reduced visibility. The memorial along I-75 was intended to be a reminder to motorists that while road construction may delay their travels, that the people working in them also want to get home. “We just want people to see the visual,” and think, Shirling said.