LAKE TWP.: Ohio will work on $2.3 billion worth of new and ongoing road and bridge projects this year, including nearly $400 million worth in the Akron area.
State leaders announced Thursday that the Ohio Department of Transportation will tackle 1,098 projects across the state.
The work includes paving 6,945 miles of roadway — enough paving material for a two-lane road from Seattle to Key West.
“There is an inconvenience obviously involved with some of our work at times but at the end of the day, we’re here to improve infrastructure,” said Anthony Urankar, deputy director of ODOT District 4 in Coventry Township, which oversees the Akron area.
There is some good news for Akron-area motorists.
Three major construction projects are wrapping up in the next few months: the widening of state Route 18 in Copley and Bath townships; the reconstruction of Interstate 271 in Richfield and Richfield Township; and the bridge projects along Interstate 76/77 in Akron.
Most of the work in the Akron area this year involves projects that have already started such as the massive reconstruction of the South Main Street/South Broadway interchange with I-76/77 in Akron and the widening of I-76 through Norton and Barberton.
But there are several new projects, as well.
State Route 619
One of the biggest new projects involves the $13.2 million effort to widen and add two roundabouts along state Route 619 in Lake Township and Hartville.
That’s why ODOT’s District 4 office held its annual construction kick-off at the Comfort Suites in Lake Township.
The Stark County community attracts about 2 million visitors a year thanks to the famous Hartville Kitchen and Hartville Hardware.
But the two-lane Route 619 is ill-equipped to handle the estimated 10,690 vehicles a day that flow into the area. That number balloons on Saturdays.
“The traffic is horrible,” Hartville Mayor Cindy Billings said. “We definitely need four lanes.”
The project, which is expected to begin in late April or early May, involves turning Route 619 into a four-lane road, with a center turn lane, from Kaufman Street to Milan Avenue — a stretch of 1.3 miles.
It also includes building roundabouts at Route 619 and Kings Church Avenue, and Route 619 and Kaufman, along with new drainage, sanitary sewers, street lighting, signals and a sidewalk.
The work will involve multiple road closures and won’t be completed until 2020.
When learning that 2 million people visit the community, Brian Dell, who is overseeing the project for ODOT, responded with a chuckle: “So I can expect 2 million grumbles a year? This is construction. We deal with it every year. In the end, we’re making this place better. So people can get in, visit the businesses and get out, and then come back and visit again.”
Judi Hammer, manager of the 81-room Comfort Suites, which opened in early 2015, said she knows the construction will be difficult for local residents and visitors alike.
She hopes people keep a positive attitude and focus on how it will improve the community.
“It’s short-term pain for long-term gain,” she said.
The most expensive project in the Akron area is the ongoing $97.6 million effort to rebuild the South Main/South Broadway interchange with I-76/77.
ODOT hopes that it will be able to shut down South Broadway at the highway, and turn South Main into a two-way street later this year. South Main is currently a one-way road heading south out of Akron.
There also is the potential that two ramps will be closed around the Central Interchange for a year starting this fall as the state agency rebuilds the highway west of the interchange. The Central Interchange is where I-76, I-77 and state Route 8 intersect.
The affected ramps there are I-76 eastbound to I-77 southbound and I-77 northbound to I-76 westbound.
The overall project is expected to be completed in June 2020.
ODOT is investing less money this year on new projects in the Akron area. Most of the spending involves work that has already started.
For example, the total spending in Summit County is $262.6 million, but only $4 million is for upcoming projects.
The state agency is spending $58.4 million in Medina, $23 million in Portage, $49 million in Stark and $5.4 million in Wayne.
Here’s a look at several other major projects in the Akron area, some of which were started in past years or began earlier this year:
•?Brunswick: An $11 million project to reconstruct Carpenter Road from state Route 303 to Boston Road. The work is expected to be completed in July 2019.
•?Granger Township: A $2.5 million project to build a roundabout at state Route 94 and Granger Road. The work is expected to be completed in September.
•?Medina: A $17 million project to improve U.S. Route 42 from Harding Street to Fenn Road. The work is expected to be completed in October 2018.
•?Montville Township/Medina Township/Brunswick Hills Township/Brunswick: An $8.6 million project to resurface Interstate 71 from the Ridgewood Road overpass to the Cuyahoga County line. The work is expected to be completed in October.
•?Wadsworth: An ongoing $12.4 million project to rehab state Route 94 from West Street to Smokerise Drive. The project is expected to be completed in June 2018.
•?Brimfield/Suffield Townships: A $2.4 million project to resurface state Route 43 from the Stark County line to just south of Tallmadge Road, and resurface Route 43 from Interstate 76 to Brimfield Drive. The project is expected to be completed in August.
•?Streetsboro: A $7.4 million project to add a turn lane on Frost Road from Ellsworth Road to Phillips Parkway, and widen Frost from Sunny Lane to state Route 43. It will include widening the bridge over Interstate 480. The work is expected to be completed in September 2018.
•?Shalersville Township: A $2.1 million project to resurface state Route 303 from the Streetsboro line to state Route 44. The work is expected to be completed in November.
•?Canton: A $4 million project to repair and resurface bridges and ramps at I-77 and U.S. Route 30. The project is expected to be completed in November.
•?Marlboro Township/Nimishillen Township/Hartville/Louisville: A $2.3 million project to resurface state Route 44 from the Louisville line to U.S. Route 62 and from St. Peters Church Road to the Portage County line; and resurface Route 619 from state Route 43 to the eastern Hartville line. The work is expected to be completed in August.
•?North Canton/Plain Township: A $20.4 million project to widen Route 43 from 55th Street to Applegrove Street. The work includes new sidewalks, drainage improvements and a pedestrian and bike tunnel. The work is expected to be completed in September 2018.
•?Perry/Canton Townships: A $3.9 million project to resurface U.S. Route 30 from state Route 627 and state Route 297. The ramps at state Route 21/Route 30 will be closed for seven days during the work, which is expected to be completed in October.
•?Akron: An ongoing $20.1 million project to remove three bridges along I-76/77. The work, which also involves redecking the I-76/77 bridge over Brown Street, is expected to be completed in July.
•?Bath Township/Copley Township/Fairlawn: An ongoing $9 million project to widen state Route 18 from South Hametown Road to I-77, and resurface the road from the Medina County line to the Akron line. The work is expected to be completed in July.
•?Copley Township/Bath Township/Norton/Fairlawn: A $7.3 million project to resurface I-77 from state Route 21 to Cleveland-Massillon Road, and Route 21 from the northern Norton city limit to I-77. The work is expected to be completed in October.
•?Cuyahoga Falls: A $4.6 million project to resurface state Route 8 from Howe Avenue to Graham Road, state Route 303 from Chittenden Road to Olde 8, and state Route 261 from Route 8 to North Main Street. The work, which also involves bridge work, is expected to be completed in October.
•?Norton: A $2.4 million project to widen Cleveland-Massillon Road from Greenridge Road to just north of Pleasant Drive. The work is expected to be completed in September.
•?Norton/Barberton: An ongoing $87.6 million project to widen I-76 to three lanes in each direction through the communities and make repairs to bridges. The work is expected to be completed in July 2019.
•?Richfield/Richfield Township: An ongoing $49.8 million project to replace the pavement on I-271 and make bridge repairs. The work is expected to be completed in July.
•?Paint Township/Sugar Creek Township/Dalton/Mount Eaton: A $2 million project to resurface state Route 94 from the Holmes County line to U.S. Route 30. The work is expected to be completed in September.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ .