ODOT highlights major road projects planned

Attendees and members of
the press gather on the northbound lane of the new Route 24, under a OH-64 overpass. The train
decorations on the overpass symbolize the train town history of Whitehouse and Waterville. (Photo: Enoch

WATERVILLE – The Ohio Department of Transportation gave media a first look at the work on the U.S. Route
24 "Fort to Port" construction project Tuesday, inaugurating the kickoff of the 2012
construction season. PHOTO

The event also included remarks from ODOT Director Jerry Way, Fort to Port Improvement Organization
Co-Chairman Jamie Black, and Regional Growth Partnership President and CEO Dean Monske.
The segment open to media was located just north of the village on Ohio 64. The road itself is being
improved to a four-lane divided-highway alignment between Waterville and Napoleon, and is scheduled to
open in September.
With semi trucks making up one-third of traffic, the construction is expected to "alleviate safety
concerns caused by the mixture of truck traffic and residential travel along the current highway,"
according to the website of ODOT District 2, which covers the northern portion of Northwest Ohio.
The project has been underway since 2008, and the full new route, stretching from Toledo to Indiana, is
expected to open this year.
The project is one of approximately 800 construction projects being tackled by ODOT statewide, costing
$1.8 billion. Major projects ongoing this year in Wood County include the $7 million Ohio 18 Relocation
between Liberty Hi Road and South Main Street, North Baltimore; a $5.7 million installation of freeway
management equipment in Wood and Lucas Counties; $4.48 million work on the I-475 Maumee River Bridge;
$8.1 million I-75 resurfacing between the I-475/I-75 split in Perrysburg and Ohio 65; and the $7.3
million North Main Street widening project in Bowling Green.
However, ODOT is still facing challenges from rising construction costs coupled with shrinking gas tax
revenues. A statement released Tuesday noted that ODOT announced a $1.6 billion shortfall in January
needed for 35 new projects planned through 2018.
"However, ODOT anticipates having only $100 million per year to spend on new construction after all
(road) preservation needs are met."
In order to fill the gap, ODOT is looking at alternative funding methods, including commercializing
non-interstate rest areas and soliciting sponsorship and naming rights for some projects. Such efforts
could save $100 to $200 million annually.

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