By Andrea Cordle
Last winter was a rough ride for drivers of Interstate 71 through Grove City. With the approaching winter weather, city leaders want to make sure preparations are made for a smoother drive.
At the Nov. 5 Grove City Council meeting, Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Engineer Andrew Opsitnik updated council members on the highway road project.
“We don’t want a repeat of last winter,” said Opsitnik.
The project is part of the Interstate 71 South Side Mega Fix, a $113 million reconstruction project of the highway between Stringtown Road and State Route 315.
Councilman Jeff Davis said last winter the construction caused problems with pot holes.
Drivers frequently ended up with flat tires and damage to their vehicles.
“What changes have been made so this does not happen again,” asked Davis.
Opsitnik said now there is new pavement on the highway. He said ODOT plans to fix a few pockets of road before winter but is optimistic this season will be a smoother drive.
Councilman Ted Berry was not so sure the mega fix would not again cause issues. He said the highway now has large concrete barriers on both sides.
“Where is the snow going,” asked Berry. “Plows push the snow to the side, but the side is a concrete barrier.”
The ODOT representative said plow drivers can lift the snow over the barriers to clear the highway.
The 71 South Side Mega Fix began in the summer of 2017 and should be complete by the fall of 2020. The project includes complete pavement replacement and will increase from three lanes to four in each direction. The project also involves building a new ramp from 71 to Stringtown Road and relocating the ramp from 270 east to 71 south.
Councilman Steve Robinette expressed concern about the closure of the Stringtown Road ramp for local businesses, especially the hotels.
“The hotels are concerned about a loss of business,” said Robinette.
Opsitnik said the Stringtown Road ramp will be closed for 30 days at the beginning of 2020 for westbound traffic. Drivers will have to take a detour to State Route 62 or State Route 665.
The Mega Fix will also include the construction of two noise barriers, floodwall work near Greenlawn Avenue and upgrades to safety features including guardrail, drainage, lighting and signage. The goal of the project is to reduce congestion and enhance capacity.
“That stretch of highway sees 100,000 cars each day,” said Opsitnik. “When finished, that road should last 50 years plus.”
The Grove City Division of Police is working with ODOT to enforce the construction zone speed limit and inform the community about traffic pattern changes.
For more information on the Interstate 71 South Side Mega Fix, visit www.transportation.ohio.gov.