Last updated: August 24. 2013 10:20AM - 344 Views

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LIMA ‚?? Local businesses, organizations and residents are already benefiting from the Interstate 75 reconstruction project in Allen County even before ground breaks for Phase 2 of the Ohio Department of Transportation project.

The I-75 and state Route 309 corridor is getting a makeover during Phase 2 of the ODOT project, which will include restructuring the on- and off-ramps, plus a safety upgrade for state Route 309.

As part of the project, ODOT bought Panera, Sprint and Jack‚??s Aquarium in order to have enough land for the project. That purchase has ended up bettering many local entities.

‚??Here in about a month and a half, the construction of I-75 will be taking place. We‚??re talking about the largest single transportation investment to ever be made in Allen County,‚?Ě said Kirk Slusher, ODOT District One deputy director. ‚??We ended up purchasing 12 different properties, seven commercial and five residential, and so we had a variety of different properties to make available.‚?Ě

Habitat for Humanity salvaged items from buildings, either selling things directly from the property or from its ReStore.

‚??We managed to pull out, reuse, reclaim and restore all kinds of items,‚?Ě Karen Wagner, Habitat Lima ReStore manager said. ‚??One of the local companies bought eight of the air conditioning units and reconditioned them and then offered them to some non-profits and some churches who had broken systems. So that was really awesome.‚?Ě

Wagner said Panera Bread‚??s walk-in freezer and refrigerator went to an Allen County restaurant and a local youth center got a baby-changing station, a water cooler and a couple of awnings.

‚??Another local business bought two of the double doors from Panera and some of the other fixtures,‚?Ě she said. ‚??A local resident here who is looking forward to retiring eventually bought all of the aquarium fixtures and equipment out of Jack‚??s. So she‚??s already got a good start on her retirement dream.‚?Ě

The Allen County Dog Warden‚??s Office also bought countertops for its facilities.

‚??From Panera Bread, we got some nice table tops and countertops,‚?Ě said Allen County Dog Warden Julie Shellhammer. ‚??We were able to fix up our kennel areas with some stainless steel tables and sinks. Just being able to utilize the stainless steel, it‚??s such a benefit because we‚??re able to sanitize it and keep it clean and it looks nice.‚?Ě

But materials aside, other entities were able to benefit from the buildings themselves. Apollo Career Center‚??s building maintenance and carpentry programs helped Habitat for Humanity with the salvage work for about two weeks.

‚??They had the opportunity to learn some equipment, safety procedures, man lifts with the safety harnesses, just all of the procedures that we normally do in the shop,‚?Ě said Rod Wise, Apollo building maintenance instructor. ‚??But to get out and do it on-site and actually have it mean something was just a great opportunity for these students.‚?Ě

Carpentry students who normally study residential structures were able to see the differences of the trade in commercial structures, said Mike Sebenoler, Apollo carpentry instructor.

‚??We worked in Jack‚??s Aquarium and the Sprint store removing plumbing fixtures, light fixtures and a lot of shelving units,‚?Ě Sebenoler said. ‚??And the students really took a lot of interest in helping Habitat for Humanity and the ReStore and they really enjoyed doing the work there.‚?Ě

Allen County Sheriff Sam Crish said his SWAT team, deputies and K9 unit ‚?? among other public safety agencies ‚?? used the space for training.

‚??For example, with our SWAT team, we were able to set up scenarios, closest to the real thing,‚?Ě Crish said. ‚??We took advantage of it as many days as we could. The cost was nothing to us, and we certainly appreciate that. For us to try and set something up for several days of training like that, it would have been a huge cost in getting the facility and the manpower. So we certainly appreciate that.‚?Ě

Slusher said the project will open for bid Thursday. He said he expects the buildings to be demolished around mid-March, but that‚??s dependent on the contractor.¬†

‚??We have another major project coming up in Hancock County on I-75 up there, and so if we have opportunities up there we would certainly be partnering with anybody we could up there,‚?Ě he said.

Phase 1 of the Allen County I-75 reconstruction included replacing the Fourth Street and Reservoir Road bridges and was finished last fall. Phase 2 includes rebuilding the highway from the Fourth Street exit to just north of state Route 81. Phase 3 will be from the Auglaize County line to the Fourth Street exit and will include the reconstruction of the Breese Road and state Route 65 interchanges and the bridges at Hanthorn and McClain roads.

ODOT project
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