LIMA — With major construction improvements under way near the Allen County Fairgrounds, the Ohio Department of Transportation is making sure road work on Harding Highway and Interstate 75 doesn’t inconvenience too many people during major spring and summer events.
“It’s going to be a big year for events at the fairgrounds and a big year for transportation,” said Dave Grimm, general manager at the Allen County Fairgrounds. “Everyone is looking forward to when the project is done. The road is going to be great. It only accents the area. It improves what we have to sell in the future, and one of the great things we have to sell here is location, location, location. Ease of access, support structure, the highway, and the Ohio Department of Transportation has done a good job with that.”
Dan Kaseman, with ODOT, said it’s important to communicate with the Fairgrounds to coordinate plans around events. He said construction on Harding Highway will be suspended the week of the fair, from Aug. 16 to 24. About 190,000 people are expected come to the fair during that week.
“We knew there was no way we could avoid construction during every one of those events that we have. So the main thing is to communicate with them, tell them what’s going to take place, what we’re going to be doing, making sure that they have enough time to communicate to their patrons and the people coming here,” Kaseman said. “So they know how to deal with the traffic situations because of the construction.”
The Allen County Fairgrounds and ODOT have maintained a partnership over the past few years. Other events expected to bring in a lot of people include Four-Wheel Jamboree Monster Truck show, expected to bring in 20,000 people in May, and the Lima Rodeo in June.
ODOT is working on $2.3 billion in projects statewide with this year, its biggest-ever undertaking.
The largest projects in the region are in Allen and Hardin counties. In Allen County, Interstate 75 construction continues, with interstate reconstruction between Fourth Street and state Route 81 now under way. The project also includes the reconstruction of the interchanges at Fourth Street, state Routes 117/309 and state Route 81, and a safety upgrade on state Route 117/309 from the Interstate 75 interchange to the Allen County Fairgrounds.
A smaller project will be done at Hartzler and Elida roads, in front of the Lima Mall. A turn lane there caused many problems around the holidays, with the lane backing up onto the four-lane highway. ODOT will be extending that turn lane by approximately 150 feet. That project will be completed this year, along with the extension of the existing raised-curb median on Elida Road.
Most of the construction in Hardin County will take place around Kenton, with several resurfacing projects planned.
ODOT construction near Allen County Fairgrounds