Eliminating truck backups at the south end of I-280 in Lake Township is the goal of an Ohio Department of Transportation project to build a turnaround on State Rt. 420 about a quarter-mile south of Libbey Road.
Kokosing Construction in Columbus is to begin work Tuesday on a nearly $2.5 million project to build the turnaround and other safety improvements near the Libbey intersection, where I-280 turns into Route 420 just south of the Ohio Turnpike.
Two truck stops on Libbey just east of the intersection generate heavy left-turn traffic from southbound I-280, with trucks sometimes backing up past the end of a single left-turn lane.
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And even when there’s room, truckers arriving from the turnpike toll-plaza ramp can struggle to get across I-280’s two southbound lanes to reach the left-turn lane for eastbound Libbey, said Theresa Pollick, an ODOT spokesman in Bowling Green.
The trade-off, of course, will be that once the U-turn lane opens early next summer, truckers — and everybody else headed for the Travelcenters of America or Pilot Travel Center on Libbey from I-280 — will have a slightly longer trip, because the left turn will become prohibited.
Several truckers who stopped at the Pilot truck stop Saturday afternoon said the turnaround could be an improvement as long as the turn lane leading to it is long enough for all the trucks.
“It might help,” said Ray Hernandez of Chicago, who was headed for Pennsylvania. “You got to remember, these things [trucks] are huge, and they need more room to merge and cross.”
“Traffic doesn’t stop, and you’re backing up traffic over here to get over there,” driver Roy Chambers of Hamden, Conn., said while gesturing first to the right, then the left. “It’s going to be better than it is now.”
“As long as there’s enough room to turn around, I don’t have a problem with it,” said Reginald Larkin of Cleveland.
Initial construction on the northbound side of Route 420 will close one of two lanes north of State Rt. 163 beginning Tuesday. Southbound lane closings also will be needed before the project’s completion.
Besides the turnaround, Kokosing will beef up and re-stripe Libbey’s westbound side at Route 420/I-280 so that it has three lanes, Ms. Pollick said: one each for left turns, right turns, and straight traffic. That should reduce backups of trucks waiting to turn right that sometimes block the Pilot truck stop’s driveways and also can prevent motorists from leaving the TA facility across the road.
Also, northbound I-280’s lanes will be shifted a bit just north of the turnpike toll-plaza bridge to make room for extending the acceleration lane beneath the overpass for the turnpike mainline. Trucks coming off the turnpike and onto northbound I-280 don’t have adequate room to speed up to merge, Ms. Pollick said.
“This will bring that acceleration lane up to current standards,” she said.
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