Major road construction in Ohio is getting back on track.
An infusion of new funding from a gas tax increase adopted in the state’s transportation budget earlier this year will be used to earmark about $1.1 billion over the next four years for major transportation projects around the state, including nearly $400 million for new projects.
The Ohio Department of Transportation’s Transportation Review Advisory Council approved the final list of projects on Tuesday.
ODOT will spend millions on large projects across the state. About $65 million will go to widening and interchange improvements along Interstate 77, including at Interstate 277 and Route 224 in Summit County. Another $79 million will be used to widen Interstate 475 and to build a new interchange with Route 20A in Lucas County. Hamilton County’s Interstate 75 widening project between Paddock and Kemper will receive about $38 million.
“The investment we make today will not only improve mobility and of course facilitate the movement of goods throughout our state, but it will also help make our system safer for the public,” said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks, a member of the council.
In July, ODOT received applications for 27 major new road projects that collectively cost about $925 million.
The requests, though, far outstrip the available funding. The council re-evaluates its list annually, adding new projects and removing those that didn’t meet their originally anticipated timeline.
The advisory community opted to fund 20 of the projects, with most of the $398 million in state spending they will require going to construction. The council funds only major construction projects, those that cost more than $12 million.
The TRAC process was suspended in 2018, though, because the state ran out of money for major new construction. Projects totaling about $700 million on the state’s list for the next four years stemmed from previous commitments.
“We definitely had to put these projects on hold,” Marchbanks said. “What we’re so thankful for now is that we do have dollars to invest in these critical pinch points, making sure we have safety and mobility on some of our most traveled interstates and highways.”
Gov. Mike DeWine and state lawmakers agreed in the spring to raise the state’s gas tax by 10.5 cents to 38.5 cents a gallon and the diesel tax by 19 cents to 47 cents a gallon. The increase is expected to generate about $550 million a year in additional funds for the state, with another $300 million going to cities, counties and townships.
Most of ODOT’s funding, though, goes to maintaining its existing network, which includes 43,000 lane miles and 14,000 bridges, Marchbanks said.
Akron-Canton projects on the list are:
• I-77 widening and interchange improvements in Summit County: $65 million to provide two lane ramps on identified ramps in the I-77/I-277/Rt. 224 interchange, and widen, resurface and improve bridges on I-77 from Arlington Road Interchange to the I-77/I-277/Rt. 224 Interchange. Construction funding for 2021.
• I-77 widening in Summit County: $6 million for preliminary engineering on expanding the last four-lane stretch of I-77 between Cleveland and Canton to six lanes between Ghent Road to the Ohio Turnpike in northern Summit County.
• Route 30 relocation in Stark County: $2 million for preliminary engineering and design to relocate a 3-mile stretch of Route 30 to become a four-lane, limited access highway from Trump Avenue to Route. 44 in Stark County.