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MLK interchange at 71 remains on fast track

Holly Yurchison

State officials are expected to award a contract to build the new interchange on I-71 at Martin Luther King Drive in April, and construction could begin in July.  

Ohio Department of Transportation officials updated a city council committee Tuesday on the $118 million project.  Assistant Project Manager John Otis said when the work begins contractors will not have a complete set of plans.

“They can use this scope document to use innovation to construct the project more efficiently,” Otis said.  “Our statewide experience is that design/build is cheaper and faster than our traditional methods of design, bid, build.”

The Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments partnered with Cincinnati to help finance parts of the new exit.  Executive Director Mark Policinski said such arrangements are the future of major transportation projects.

“If we had waited for traditional funding this project would not be on the drawing board, this would still be in mothballs,” Policinski said.  “Here we are talking about finishing in two years because we went too innovative financing, and that’s what we need to do for all our projects.”

Policinski said the federal government can no longer afford to pay for the majority of big transportation projects.

The MLK interchange is expected to reduce travel times to the city's Uptown area.  A study finds the new exit could result in an additional $325 million of private investment in the area and could lead to 5,900 to 7,300 new jobs.
The construction work is expected to be substantially complete in late 2016.