LIMA — The orange cones and construction crews along Interstate 75 have been such a familiar sight that they have almost blended into the landscape, but after four years of construction, lane changes and closures, the Allen County portion of the interstate’s reconstruction will soon be at an end.
The Ohio Department of Transportation held a press conference Thursday in front of the Bob Evans plant in Gateway Commerce Park celebrating the project’s pending completion. ODOT District 1 Deputy Director Kirk Slusher noted that, prior to this project’s 2012 start, motorists were still using the same pavement and bridges as when the road was first constructed in the 1950s.
“This is a brand new transportation system,” he said. “It’s all new concrete and pavement, along with new bridges. It’s a new and safer asset that all citizens can enjoy.”
The project started in 2012 with reconstruction of the Reservoir Road and Fourth Street overpasses, followed by reconstruction of the pavement from Fourth Street to state Route 81 and finishing with reconstruction from Fourth Street south to the Auglaize County line. The project reconstructed 9.38 miles of roadway, providing the framework for a third lane in each direction should the need arise. Originally projected to cost $156.2 million, the project came in with a final price tage of $135.7 million.
ODOT Director Jerry Wray noted that completing this section of the interstate will have economic as well as safety benefits for the region.
“The ability to move people and goods is a tremendous asset in terms of economic development and commerce,” he said. “We live in a state that builds things and makes things, and we need to be able to move things, so this will be a big plus for this area.”
With final striping and rumble strip installation set to be complete Oct. 1, construction will then move north, with road construction in Findlay set to begin next spring.
“That will be a reconstruction and add-lane project from the U.S. Route 68/15 interchange up to County Road 99, where we’re in the process of widening it to three lanes all the way up to Toledo,” Slusher said. “It will be a 4.5-mile project, and we’re excited to get that going.”
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.