May 12, 2013
LIMA ó Just because no oneís paving doesnít mean there isnít significant work happening on the Interstate 75 project.
That was evident Friday. On the road, traffic navigated concrete barriers on the highway through a rainy day, east of state Route 309. Below drivers, crews installed a 330-foot-long culvert stretching underneath the highway. Drainage is one of the most significant pieces of a highway construction piece, Ohio Department of Transportation spokeswoman Rhonda Pees said. It often takes a long time, and itís work the public doesnít see, giving a misconception that progress isnít being made on the project.
This particular culvert is a re-lining of existing pipe. The original culvert was 11 feet in diameter. Crews from Indiana Reline Inc., in Sulphur Springs, Ind., are inserting a new 9-foot wide pipe into the old one and filling the gaps. Crews are pushing through 40-foot-long sections of pipe and connecting them, said Luke Johansen, ODOT project engineer.
ďItís a lot less disruptive to the highway to do this,Ē Johansen said.
Interstate 75 from the Auglaize County line to just north of state Route 81 in Allen County and through the city of Lima is undergoing a significant reconstruction that began in 2012 and will continue through 2015. At $150 million, it is the largest investment the Ohio Department of Transportation has made in Allen Countyís history.
Recent rain has delayed the project slightly, but it is on track generally, Johansen said. The next large piece the public will see is the demolition of a bridge over state Route 309. That work isnít scheduled yet, but traffic will actually be maintained as it happens, Pees said.
Johansen said drivers are having trouble navigating many of the concrete barriers, especially at ramps. Drivers arenít reducing their speed for the tighter lanes and shortened ramps at the moment. ODOT has seen about 15 related crashes since the project began in earnest about a month ago.
Because of the size and scope of the project, officials with ODOT are keeping the public informed about it in multiple ways and for multiple reasons. Many people live or work near the project or need to know construction updates for travel. Other people are just interested. ODOT has installed traffic cameras and posts regular updates, photos and videos on a web page and a Facebook page dedicated to the project. For the first time, Pees has a public information intern in her office for the summer.
For updates on the project, visit www.odotlima75.org or the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ODOTLima75.