LIMA, Ohio -- The closing this week of the Fourth Street bridge over I-75 marks the start of an initial phase of rebuilding the freeway through Lima, an Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman said.
Bridges at Fourth Street and Reservoir Road are to be replaced this year by Eagle Bridge of Sidney, Ohio, under an almost $8 million state contract. Ramps at Fourth will be rebuilt as well; there is no interchange at Reservoir.
Those two bridges' reconstruction will be followed next year by the start of actual I-75 reconstruction, much as three bridges were rebuilt in central Toledo before an on-going reconstruction of I-475 and its northerly junction with I-75 began.
I-75 is to be rebuilt in two stages between State Rt. 81, on Lima's northeast side, and the Allen-Auglaize county line. The total project, scheduled for completion in 2015, is expected to cost about $156 million, said Rhonda Pees, a spokesman at the ODOT district office in Lima.
I-75 through the Lima area is one of the oldest parts of that freeway in Ohio. The 1952 through 1955 awards of construction contracts for the stretch between Beaverdam and the Allen-Auglaize county line predated the federal law that created the Interstate System in 1956. At the time, the new roadway was a Lima bypass for U.S. 25, the old Dixie Highway.
The bridge replacements are expected to have a minimal impact on I-75 traffic.
Lane closings are scheduled for the rest of this week from 8 p.m. until 10 a.m. nightly for work to prepare the Fourth Street bridge for demolition. After that, most work is expected to occur between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays, with some Saturday work possible.
The ramps at Fourth will be open for most of the project but be closed for about 30 days -- "likely in May," according to ODOT. With the bridge out, ramp traffic will be allowed to make only right turns, with local detours posted around the construction site.
Reservoir is expected to close in May too. It crosses I-75 between the State Rt. 81 and State Rts. 117/309 interchanges.
Both Reservoir and Fourth are scheduled to reopen by late autumn.
Work on I-75 itself is scheduled to start in spring, 2013, between Fourth Street and Bible Road, and south of Fourth Street to the county line a year later.
The northerly phase will include rebuilding State Rts. 117/309 between Bowman Road and Saratoga Avenue with a median curb and combined driveway access, work intended to reduce congestion and accidents. Turn lanes will be added and stoplights will be replaced.