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Highway construction season underway

Bill Rinehart

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has a busy year ahead.  Acting District 8 deputy director Gary Middleton announced the beginning of the construction season Monday afternoon.

“To many Ohioans, construction season means orange barrels and potential delays,” Middleton says.  “However construction season means more than that.  It’s an investment in our state’s transportation system that is vital to our economy and vital to job creation in Ohio.”

Middleton says there are 110 active construction projects in the southwest corner of the state, worth more than $568 million.

“These projects range from relatively low cost culvert replacements to mega projects on the interstate,” he says.

Among the major projects is the new I-71 interchange at Martin Luther King Drive.

Uptown Consortium president Beth Robinson says when completed in 2017, the interchange will bring new development and new jobs to nearby neighborhoods.

“It will unlock residential development and investment, and it will also unlock potential to bring new jobs,” Robinson says.

But Bill Witten with the Avondale Community Council says the project is already creating jobs.  He says ODOT and the general contractor, Kokosing, stepped up and did recruiting in the neighborhoods.

“They turned us on to the labor unions, to the other carpenters’ unions, to the ironworkers, as well as the operators, to engage them in opportunities for careers,” Witten says.  “We don’t need jobs, we need careers for these young folk.  That’s the only way you make a change in your life is to have a career.”

The new interchange is intended to improve access to Avondale, Evanston, Walnut Hills, Corryville and Mount Auburn.

It is one of four major interstate projects underway in southwest Ohio, including:

·         I-71 Mason-Montgomery exit/loop ramp construction

·         I-275 /SR 32 interchange improvement

·         I-75/Hopple Street interchange improvement

Hamilton County Engineer Ted Hubbard says there are some big plans off the interstate too.

“We’re going to reconstruct the Ronald Reagan Highway from Colerain Avenue to I-275.  The Pippin Road arterial from Compton to Springdale in Springfield Township, and then (the portion in) Colerain Township will be improved and rebuilt as well.”

Hubbard says motorists can also expect work to begin this year at 5 Mile and Beechmont; Ebenezer, Taylor and Bridgetown; and Blue Rock and Cheviot.

Statewide, ODOT has a total of 990 projects this summer worth an estimated $2.4 billion.

Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.