By Andrea Cordle
The Interstate 71 South Side Mega Fix has become a mega problem for residents in Grove City.
At the April 2 meeting, Andrew Opsitnik, with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), addressed the road project with Grove City Council.
“I know this affects many Grove City residents,” said Opsitnik.
The project began in the summer of 2017 and repairs Interstate 71 between Stringtown Road and State Route 315. The total project cost is estimated at $113 million. It should be complete by the fall of 2020.
With construction work comes congestion and typically potholes.
Councilman Ted Berry said there are potholes in that stretch of highway that are bigger than craters.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Berry.
The councilman said just in the past few weeks he has helped six stranded drivers change their tires. He said there was even a driver who had to get checked out at the hospital after hitting one of the potholes along Interstate 71.
“ODOT doesn’t realize what people down here have been through,” said Berry.
Berry questioned ODOT’s planning process and asked why the state would start a massive highway construction project right before the winter season, when the weather contributes to the creation of potholes. He also suggested that ODOT put in place a warning system to let drivers know there are potholes in the area, so they know to decrease their speed.
Councilman Jeff Davis said just last week, he saw three disabled vehicles lined up along the Stringtown Road exit.
Opsitnik said several factors contribute to the pothole problem. He said that section of the highway was built in 1963 and has had no major rehabilitation projects since that time.
“The road has seen better days,” said the ODOT representative.
The aging roadway, the shift of the traffic pattern due to the construction and the fluctuating temperatures have created a recipe for potholes.
According to Opsitnik, ODOT has spent an additional $1 million on pavement repairs and they have a pothole crew on call to address issues as they arise.
Berry said he drove through the area before the Monday night council meeting and he saw two potholes. He also said residents have told him they get the runaround when they try to contact ODOT about their damaged vehicles.
“The government is just not in tune with what is going on,” said Berry.
Opsitnik said the 71 South Side Mega Fix includes complete pavement replacement with the addition of a lane in each direction. The project also reconfigures the I-71 and I-270 interchange.
“Part of the headache is the congestion from drivers trying to get on 71 from 270,” said Opsitnik.
The project involves building a new ramp from 71 to Stringtown Road and relocating the ramp from 270 east to 71 south. It also includes the construction of two noise barriers, floodwall work near Greenlawn Avenue and upgrades to safety features including guardrail, drainage, lighting and signage.
The project aims 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.”
For more information on the Interstate 71 South Side Mega Fix, visit www.transportation.ohio.gov or contact the ODOT public information office at 740-833-8268.