The improvements will reduce congestion for trucks hauling freight and improve traffic safety issues, ODOT Planning and Engineering Administrator Matt Parrill said. The district also has work to do to maintain the current infrastructure, he said. Aging bridges along I-70 need repairs, Parrill said. The project will allow several bridges to be replaced, he said.
“From my perspective, its system condition at a local level, but from a regional and nationwide level, it’s creating a continuous six-lane section for the truck traffic,” Parrill said. “It’s a change for now.”
If the federal application for a U.S. Department of Transportation FASTLANE grant is approved, it’s unclear how soon construction would begin, Schmid said.
“It will move the project forward, it’s just a matter of how fast,” he said.
The $18 million Phase 1 of the project from Enon to U.S. 68 was completed in the fall of 2015. A third lane was added in each direction in the 3.8-mile stretch of I-70, which took nearly a year-and-a-half to complete.
The FASTLANE program was created as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act to improve freight shipping across the country. About $4.5 billion is being used for the program between 2016 and 2020, including $850 million during the 2017 fiscal year.
ODOT applied for a similar a grant last year, but was not selected, Parrill said. It’s submitting an updated application during this round, Parrill said.
“It’s very competitive, but it’s an opportunity to jump ahead of the existing (schedule),” Parrill said. “We’re going to take every opportunity for these programs we they come along. If we qualify, we’re going to apply.”
The $5 million design for the project has already been completed, Parrill said, meaning it can move forward as soon as funding is in hand. It was chosen by state ODOT leaders as a project worthy of FASTLANE money. If approved, ODOT will have to find need to find $20 million in funding to complete the project. They hope to get the money through the Transportation Review Advisory Council or district allocations, he said.
“They do know that if we do receive it, it’s not the full amount,” Parrill said. “They would have a financial plan to bridge the gap.”
The Springfield City Commission, Clark County Commission and the Chamber of Greater Springfield are also expected to write letters of support, Schmid said.
Springfield is the lone two-lane area where traffic bottlenecks in a 40-mile stretch between Dayton and Columbus, Clark County Commissioner John Detrick said.
“The economic impact is just phenomenal,” Detrick said.
By the Numbers
$18 million: Cost of phase one of I-70 widening project
$52 million: Cost of phase two of I-70 widening project
55,000-66,000: Number of motorists who travel I-70 from Enon Road to U.S. 68 daily
65,000-70,000: Number of motorists who travel I-70 from U.S. 68 to Ohio 72 daily
Staying with the story
The Springfield News-Sun digs into important public safety issues, including recent stories about roundabouts proposed for Springfield and long-time efforts to widen Interstate 70 in Clark County.