LIMA — Holiday travel in the region this weekend will include delays stemming from the Interstate 75 reconstruction project.
Beginning today, traffic on state Route 117/309 around the I-75 interchange will be shifted into eastbound lanes, one lane in each direction, the Ohio Department of Transportation said. Traffic will remain in this pattern until late summer to allow for work at the interchange between Leonard Avenue and Kibby Street and on the north side of the road.
Also today, construction crews will close the ramps on the north side of the interchange at I-75 and state Route 117/309. The ramps will remain closed until mid-summer. The closure will allow work to begin on reconstructing the ramps. Access to and from I-75 at the interchange will be maintained by use of the ramps on the south side, and traffic will be controlled through temporary traffic signals that begin operating today.
Access to all businesses in the area through the project will be maintained, ODOT said.
The construction in the area also will mean:
• Access to Dean Avenue from state Route 117/309 will not be possible beginning Friday, but Dean Avenue may be accessed from the north.
• Traffic east of Saratoga Avenue will remain two lanes in each direction at this time.
The project also will begin I-75 work Saturday that was set to begin last week but delayed by weather.
Traffic between Fourth Street and Reservoir Road will be reduced to one lane in each direction Saturday for placement of pavement markings. The work is expected to be completed in one day and occur generally between the hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Construction barrels will be placed on the outside shoulders, both northbound and southbound, to establish the work zone. Traffic could be delayed at times through the work zone.
The new pavement markings will create narrowed lanes of travel and will accommodate a shift in traffic patterns in preparation for reconstruction of the lanes.
Next week, the barrels will be removed and a temporary concrete barrier will be set. This operation will require lane restrictions in both directions and will take place over several nights, generally from 7 p.m. until as late as 10 a.m. the following morning in some areas.
ODOT is reconstructing the existing lanes of Interstate 75 from Fourth Street to just north of state Route 81 in Lima. This phase also includes the reconstruction of the Fourth Street, state Route 81 and state Route 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 Road to Stewart Road. This phase is expected to be completed in 2015.
Motorists are facing higher gasoline prices this weekend. Gas prices in Lima shot up Thursday morning by 15 to 20 cents, from $3.41 to $3.55 and higher for a gallon of regular unleaded.
The national average Monday was $3.67, according to AAA. This price is two cents less than a week ago, 11 cents less expensive than a month ago and 23 cents less than the average price a year ago. The national average has fallen for five consecutive days and 22 of 26 days since the peak 2013 price of $3.79 on Feb. 27. It is still too soon to say whether retail prices have peaked for the spring because refinery maintenance is incomplete and much of the country has yet to transition to summer-blend gasoline.