If you’re enjoying driving 70 mph legally on I-75 between Perrysburg and Findlay since the speed limit went up last fall, cherish the feeling. It’s about to go away for a while.
Preparatory work for a widening project between those cities has begun, and before long the entire 32 miles between State Rt. 199 in Perrysburg and Hancock County Road 99 will be a 60-mph construction zone until late 2016.
On Monday night, Kokosing Construction Co., of Westerville, Ohio began repairs to the southbound left lane on its $71 million section of the project, which stretches from just south of State Rt. 582 near Dunbridge to just south of U.S. 6 near Bowling Green.
Within three to four weeks, pavement repairs necessary before two lanes of traffic can be shifted onto the right lane and shoulder in each direction in Kokosing’s zone should be finished, Dennis Charvat, the Ohio Department of Transportation’s district construction administrator in Bowling Green, said Tuesday.
“The shoulder’s in good shape, but the right lane has taken a beating from the trucks,” Mr. Charvat said.
Kokosing is one of four ODOT contractors hired to add the third lane in each direction between Perrysburg and Findlay, which for the most part will require no new right-of-way because the new lanes will be built in what is now a wide, grassy median.
Other contractors are:
● E.S. Wagner, of Toledo, $66.8 million to widen from State Rt. 199, which passes over I-75 just north of the I-475/U.S. 23 interchange, to Route 582;
● The Shelly Co., of Findlay, $57.7 million to widen from south of U.S. 6 to Oil Center Road, just south of the Cygnet interchange;
● Miller Brothers Construction, of Napoleon, $65 million to widen from Oil Center to County Road 99, on the north side of Findlay.
All are expected to start their work within the next few weeks, with construction hitting full stride by late summer, Mr. Charvat said.
A fifth I-75 section, between Road 99 and the U.S. 68/State Rt. 15 interchange south of Findlay, is under development by ODOT’s Lima office and is scheduled for construction starting next year.
Replacement of the U.S. 224 overpass in Findlay, now under way, is a preparatory step for that stage.
Except for the junctions at either end, the I-75 widening should be fairly straightforward: shift traffic to the outer pavement, build the new lanes and rebuild the existing left lanes, then shift traffic onto the new pavement and rebuild the right lanes and shoulders. Any reductions to a single lane in either direction are planned for off-peak hours.
But just because two lanes will be kept open most of the time in both directions — which is what’s there now — does not guarantee smooth sailing for drivers.
The shoulders will be closed, which means limited stopping options for drivers whose vehicles break down and less room for driver errors.
“It’s definitely going to be an adjustment for drivers,” said Theresa Pollick, ODOT’s spokesman in Bowling Green.
“It’s not going be your same 70-mph drive coming in. … Driver safety is going to be a big part of this work zone, because it’s going to be in our area for a while.”
At the Perrysburg end, the project will include modifying the I-475 junction to separate traffic headed to I-475’s State Rt. 25 interchange from vehicles taking I-475 farther north.
That element will require closing the northbound I-75 ramp to I-475 for three or four months next year, Mr. Charvat said.
The lane layout during I-75’s widening through that junction also will be different from the rest of the project, he said.
Contact David Patch at: email@example.com or 419-724-6094.