It’s been worse. At times, way worse.
So in some ways, the closing of the westbound Kenmore leg of Interstate 76 in Akron did not lead to a bad case of Traffic Trauma. At least on Monday, the first working day of the monthlong repaving project.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is not yet doing happy dances around its orange barrels. It will wait until next weekend to celebrate.
But as far as Mondays go, this past Monday wasn’t too shabby.
“I would say it’s very early,” said ODOT District 4 spokesman Justin Chesnic. “As far as complaints, we really haven’t gotten any. We got a few questions, from out-of-towners driving the area, who aren’t familiar with the area. But that was about it.”
Chesnic said a similar shutdown three years ago on Interstate 277/U.S. 224 provided some historical context for ODOT planners. And for that reason, ODOT opted for a complete shutdown of all westbound lanes — rather than single lane closures — to hasten the project.
The goal is to reduce the time and cost of the project, and improve safety for drivers and workers.
Still, the celebrations will remain on hold.
“I will say the first week to 10 days is probably the worst,” Chesnic said. “There definitely will be some tie-ups and congestion.”
The westbound lanes will be closed for more than a month, forcing about 54,000 motorists who use that stretch each day to find alternate routes. Once the westbound section reopens, the state agency will shut down the eastbound side of the highway for another 35 to 40 days.
The $9.6 million project involves grinding off a few inches of pavement and then resurfacing the road, along with bridge repairs.
The state agency is recommending people use Interstate 77, Interstate 277/U.S. 224 and state Route 21 as detours — or travel on local roads.