The Ohio Department of Transportation hopes to reopen all eastbound lanes on Interstate 76-77 in Akron later this week or March 25 at the latest.

The state agency has reduced the highway to one lane on the city's west side and closed ramps in the area to make emergency repairs to the East Avenue bridge over the interstate. The lane closures have caused bottlenecks on the highway at times and forced many motorists to take long detours.

ODOT had hoped to reopen the lanes and ramps by mid-March. But there was a delay in making some repairs because of cold weather.

The lanes were closed in early February.

The work involves fixing steel beams damaged when a bulldozer being hauled by a tractor-trailer struck the underside of the bridge in December. Contractors are repairing the beams that were bent using a process called "heat straightening" to return them to their original shape.

But some beam sections had to be removed and new sections welded into place, ODOT spokesman Justin Chesnic said.

Several cross braces between the beams also need to be replaced.

He added that the state plans to send the bill, which is still being calculated, to the trucking company to pay. Truck driver Davrush Akhmedov of Okemos, Mich., paid fines on citations of assured cleared distance and oversize vehicle in Akron Municipal Court related to the accident and faces a fifth-degree felony forgery charge in Summit County Common Pleas Court related to permits.

 

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.