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ODOT outlines plan for construction projects along I-76, I-77 and Route 8

Improvements include adding new lanes on I-77 between the Central Interchange and Waterloo Road in Akron.

AKRON, Ohio — ODOT has released proposed plans for “major repairs and improvements” to multiple roadways within the Akron area.

Highlights outlined by ODOT include:

  • Adding lanes on I-77 northbound and southbound between the Central Interchange and Waterloo Road and on SR 8 southbound between Carroll Street and the Central Interchange.
  • Pavement replacement on I-76/I-77 between Vernon Odom Boulevard (SR 261) and Princeton Street.
  • Pavement replacement on I-77 between the Central Interchange and Waterloo Road.
  • Noise wall construction.
  • Rehabilitation work on several bridge structures.

Here is ODOT’s in-depth plan in their own words:

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is planning major repairs and improvements to I-76, I-77 and SR 8 in the heart of the Akron highway system. This $160+ million investment in Akron’s transportation infrastructure is a result of a comprehensive analysis of the Akron highway system by ODOT with input from local stakeholders that examined current and future traffic flow, safety, infrastructure condition, roadway design and other issues. Multiple individual construction projects were identified by the analysis. ODOT obtained construction funding and the individual projects were combined into one project for construction, which will lessen disruption to the traveling public during construction.

In 2016, ODOT proposed changes to I-76/I-77/SR-8 Akron Central Interchange through outreach efforts that included public meetings in 2016 and 2018 and meetings with local stakeholders. These improvements to the Central Interchange will be included in the project selling next February.

The ramps near the Central Interchange, from I-76 west to I-77 south, I-76 west to SR 8 north and I-76/I-77 east to SR 8 north will be reconfigured with gentler curves to allow higher speeds for less traffic congestion and increased safety. The existing ramps are short with sharp curves and contribute to traffic congestion and crashes. To accommodate the reconfigured ramps, the Lafollette Street bridge over I-77 is to be replaced with a new pedestrian/bicycle bridge over I-77. Coventry Street will be removed between Kipling Street and Lafollette Street and converted to a multipurpose trail. The pavement approaching the Central Interchange from the east and west will be restriped and widened, if needed, to provide a lane for the left exit, two through lanes and one right-hand exit lane. This will allow for better traffic flow through the Central Interchange as considerable traffic congestion currently exists in the westbound direction during the morning peak hour and in the eastbound direction in the afternoon peak hour causing a substantial number of crashes. The bridges over Brown Street and Inman Street will be widened and other bridges will be maintained. The I-76 west exit ramp to Inman Street/Johnston Street and the I-77 south Lovers Lane exit ramp are to be closed to improve traffic flow and to construct the proposed improvements.

Despite numerous pavement resurfacing projects and maintenance over the years, the roadway pavement base under parts of I-76 and I-77, which was constructed in the early 1960s, is reaching the end of its useful life. So, the pavement base will be replaced on I-77 from Waterloo Road to Lovers Lane and between Princeton Street on I-76/77 and Vernon Odom Boulevard/SR 261 on I-77. Also in these locations, minor maintenance of various bridges is planned as well as major repairs to three bridges: I-76/77 over Manchester Road, I-76/77 over Bowery Street/Ohio Canal and I-76/77 over Lakeshore Boulevard.

ODOT has been working with the Summit Lake Community Council and City of Akron on enhancements, such as a widened sidewalk, to the Princeton Street bridge over I-76/77 and other local improvements.

Construction activities on SR 8 between Beacon Street and Perkins Street includes pavement resurfacing and minor maintenance work on various bridges.

Maintaining traffic flow during construction is important to minimize impacts for the traveling public. ODOT combined multiple projects into one project to reduce the total time that the roads are under construction. ODOT is continuously seeking innovative methods to better maintain traffic flow during construction through improved public notifications, signing, lane markings, timing and coordination of various construction activities within the project and with nearby construction projects, and other methods. As project design advances, details on the plans to maintain traffic flow during construction will be provided.

A major item to help traffic flow is adding a lane on I-77 northbound and southbound between the Central Interchange and Waterloo Road and on SR 8 southbound between Carroll Street and the Central Interchange. The Carroll Street exit ramp on SR 8 northbound will be widened from one lane to two lanes. These additional lanes will be added to improve traffic flow during and after construction.

ODOT is studying other long-term fixes to reduce traffic congestion and improve safety in the Akron area, including reducing congestion on SR 8 southbound between Perkins Street and the Central Interchange.

Traffic flow during the construction planned for I-76, I-77 and SR 8 will be closely coordinated with two previously announced adjacent projects: the widening of I-77 between Arlington Road and Waterloo Road; and the construction of two new side-by-side bridges to replace the SR 8 high level bridge over the Little Cuyahoga River valley. Note that the current construction on I-76/77 near the Main/Broadway interchange will be completed in Summer 2020.

Noise walls will be constructed at various locations adjacent to the Central Interchange. Residents and property owners who will benefit from the noise walls were contacted in 2018 and overwhelmingly stated that they wanted a noise wall. ODOT is investigating potential noise walls on I-77 between the Central Interchange and the I-277/US 224 interchange and on SR 8 between the Central Interchange and Perkins Street.

ODOT recognizes that the Central Interchange is a major connecting point of Akron traffic. As such, the look of the noise walls on the highway side will be unique for the area with special designs chosen to highlight Akron’s heritage based on input from local stakeholders.

The proposed project is scheduled to sell in February of 2021 and last multiple years. More details on this major investment in Akron’s transportation infrastructure will be provided to the public when additional plan details and the construction schedule are further developed. Project details will be discussed at a public meeting scheduled for early 2021.

Comments can be made by contacting Robert Lang, ODOT Environmental Specialist, at 330-786-4975 or Robert.Lang@dot.ohio.gov. Comments are requested by May 20, 2020.

ODOT’s website has project information and an online commenting form. To view the project webpage for the upcoming major repairs and improvements to the Akron highway system, please click HERE.

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