Construction should start next spring on the Ohio Department of Transportation’s group of projects to widen 32 miles of I-75 between Perrysburg and the north side of Findlay, department officials said during a news conference today in Rossford.
The $196.6 million widening will be divided into four projects north of Hancock County Road 99 that will mostly involve construction in the freeway’s existing median. A fifth project to widen I-75 through Findlay will require more extensive work, because that piece of freeway has a narrow divider.
ODOT called the news conference one week after the Transportation Review and Advisory Council approved the I-75 projects as part of a $3 billion, six-year package of highway construction projects across Ohio that will largely be financed with a new Ohio Turnpike bond issue.
The projects also include completing the I-75/I-475 junction reconstruction in central Toledo and widening I-75 to six lanes between that project and the I-280 junction; the McCord Road underpass at the Norfolk Southern railroad in Holland, and building a new U.S. 20 interchange on I-475/U.S. 23 in Sylvania Township.
Except for the underpass, the planned work had been slated for deferral until late next decade because of construction-industry inflation that has eaten away at the buying power of state and federal motor fuel taxes that historically have paid for highway construction in Ohio and other states.
The projects still must be approved by the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission, which must certify that they have a transportation “nexus” with the toll road, but Todd Audet, ODOT’s district deputy director in Bowling Green, said he anticipates no hang-ups there.
“I just look over my shoulder, and I see the nexus,” he said during the news conference, held at the toll plaza for the Ohio Turnpike’s interchange with I-75.
The I-75 widening in both Wood and Lucas counties will be accomplished while maintaining two lanes of traffic in both directions at most times, ODOT officials said, and ODOT plans to build the new U.S. 20 interchange primarily in the infield areas at the existing junction.
The Wood County work will be able to start next year because engineers at the Bowling Green office had already designed rehabilitation projects for most of I-75’s bridges in Wood County that included enlarging them to accommodate future freeway widening, whenever it might occur, explained Mike Gramza, the department’s district planning engineer.