Motorists may feel like every highway is under construction in the Akron area.
But just wait. More orange barrels are on the way.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is working on more than $514 million worth of road and bridge projects in Summit County this year — part of the state agency's $2 billion construction program statewide.
Much of the local work is ongoing, such as the reconstruction of the South Main Street/South Broadway interchange with Interstate 76-77 in Akron and the widening and resurfacing of I-76 in Norton and Barberton. But many projects are new, such as retooling the U.S. Route 224/Canton Road intersection in Springfield Township and traffic improvements coming to the Copley Circle in Copley.
Regardless of whether the projects are ongoing or new, the work will likely frustrate drivers and send them seeking detours.
"Overall, we have a pretty ambitious program and a program that really addresses some safety concerns and improves the life of our pavement," ODOT spokesman Justin Chesnic said.
The most expensive project in the Akron area continues to be the $84 million reconstruction of the South Main/South Broadway interchange and pavement and bridge work along I-76. ODOT is working on the westbound side of the highway this year. The $80 million project to widen Interstate 76 in Norton and Barberton — which wraps up this year — also is among the projects in the region with the biggest price tags.
The costliest new project in the five-county Akron area is in Canton, where the state will spend $60.2 million to replace and resurface the pavement along Interstate 77 around U.S. Route 30, and repair and replace some bridges at the interchange. The majority of that project — the type of work that impacts motorists — will begin next year. It won't be completed until 2023.
Curtis Baker, director of the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study, which evaluates and plans road projects in Summit, Portage and part of Wayne County, cited several significant upcoming projects in Summit and Portage.
"It is a pretty big year for construction," he said.
He noted the much-publicized work on Howe Avenue in Cuyahoga Falls. The $5.9 million reconstruction of the roadway between state Route 8 and Bucholzer Boulevard — which begins Monday — will pose a major challenge for motorists driving to get to their favorite stores in the retail area as the eastbound lanes will be closed this year and the westbound lanes will be closed next year.
"That's a project that’s going to have a real positive improvement on the area," Baker said.
The multiyear reconstruction of the pavement on state Route 8 in Stow, Silver Lake, Hudson and Boston Heights; the retooling of the U.S. Route 224/Canton Road intersection; and a signalization project along state routes 303, 43 and 14 in Streetsboro also are important projects and will alter travel habits.
Drivers are sure to complain.
"It’s definitely frustrating for motorists," Baker said. "Sometimes there’s this [attitude]: 'When is it all going to be done?' The reality is it’s never all going to be done because there’s this constant maintenance need."
To see a full list of all the projects in Summit, Portage and Stark counties, go online to www.dot.state.oh.us/districts/d04 and click on "2019 Construction Book." ODOT's projects for Medina and Wayne counties can be found at www.dot.state.oh.us/districts/d03/.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.