The construction soon to begin on Interstate 75 in Allen County will be massive. In a span of four years, bridges will be replaced, roads repaired, and new exit and entrance ramps will be added. There even will be spots to display the logo “Real American Strength.”What won't change when the more than $166 million project is completed are the number of lanes for traffic. The Ohio Department of Transportation is relying on a study that estimates traffic growth won't warrant any additional lanes, something common sense and experience says is a major oversight.Originally, the project included widening I-75 to six lanes — three northbound lanes and three southbound — from Auglaize County to state Route 81. ODOT, however, now maintains that keeping I-75 in Lima as a four-lane road is more cost effective, based on a study of growth patterns of traffic counts, urban versus metro usage, and type of traffic. ODOT says four lanes should be sufficient for Lima for the next 20 years, though the soon-to-start work will allow for a quick transition of the median into additional lanes.Our chief concern with this plan remains economic development.The study is flawed, given the traffic counts were taken during the heart of the recession. As the economy continues to improve, so does the truck traffic. Ohio's future is tied to transportation and I-75 plays a major role. Its 1,800 miles of highway provide the major link between the Southeast and the Great Lakes, serving the cities of Miami and Tampa, Fla.; Atlanta; Knoxville, Tenn.; Lexington, Ky.; Cincinnati; and Detroit. In Ohio alone, I-75 stretches 211 miles and provides access to nine other interstates, including I-70 and I-71 as well as the Ohio Turnpike.Six lanes of I-75 near Lima would improve this area's drawing power for future development, especially being near the crossroads of the newly revamped U.S. 30. Now, instead of West Central Ohio having a new incentive for economic development, the lack of lanes could provide an obstacle.Which leads to a second concern. It's been more than 50 years for Lima with the interstate the way it is. No one should expect dramatic change again in only 20 years, no matter how desperately it might be needed.The first phase of this project begins in March and will include replacing the Fourth Street and Reservoir Road bridges over the interstate. The second phase, which will begin in March 2013 and take two years, will include a total reconstruction of the north portion of the project (just north of state Route 81 to just north of Hanthorn Road), including the state Routes 81 and 117/309 interchanges. The third and final phase will begin in 2014 and also take two years. It is the southernmost part of the project and includes resurfacing and the total reconstruction of the Breese Road and state Route 65 interchanges. That work is welcome and needed. But it's going to be a once-in-several-generations project. Now, then, is the time to add a lane in each direction to strengthen this area's economic draw.