LIMA — Here it comes, drivers.
The next phase of Interstate 75 construction is set to begin, officials said Wednesday night at a meeting held by the Ohio Department of Transportation and the contractor of the project, Beaver Excavating Co.
About 200 people filled a meeting room at Howard Johnson on Roschmann Road, asking many questions about traffic flow.
The project, which will continue through March 2015, will focus on the reconstruction of existing lanes on I-75 from Fourth Street to north of state Route 81, reconstruction of the state Route 81 and state routes 117/309 interchanges, a safety upgrade to state Route 309 east of the I-75 interchange, and the reconstruction and realignment of state Route 81 from Neubrecht to Stewart Road. The last phase, set to begin in 2014, includes the reconstruction of the Breese Road and state Route 65 interchanges as well as the replacement of the bridges at Hanthorn and McClain roads over I-75.
Area residents spoke up about the vibration or noise that construction will create, flooding that could occur during the building of a new median and sound walls, access to restaurants on state Route 309 and the need for new traffic lights to help with flow. Some saw it as an investment worth doing, and others saw it more as a nuisance.
“I’m not going to lie, traffic in our area will be impacted in the near and distant future,” said Kirk Slusher, deputy director of District One with ODOT. "But, we are working with many different businesses and events, such as the Allen County Fairgrounds board, to accommodate them and address their needs and concerns as best as we can.”
Representatives from Beaver Excavating Co., based in Canton, shared the schedule and the project features.
Jack Ford, vice president of Beaver Excavating Co., said this project automatically breeds backlash, but he wanted people to understand why they are working on the project.
“We saw the opportunity to help rebuild the highways around this area as a positive for both Allen County and our business,” Ford said. “What people need to realize is we will do our best to accommodate and minimize the impact of our project on traffic but need traffic to focus on the road and not become distracted, because distractions cause accidents and we don’t want that to happen.”
Scott Mullins, area engineer for ODOT, said he understands how this will impact the area greatly and hopes people can focus on the end result.
“I know this will seem hectic and confusing at first, but it is all in good faith,” Mullins said. “We need patience and cooperation from our citizens knowing the outcome is greater than the present.”