AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – It was a smoother than expected start to getting on and off I-80 Monday, as the road-widening project in Mahoning and Trumbull counties began. Only two of the six ramps scheduled to close actually had barricades put up.
The following ramps closed Monday morning:
- The ramp from US 422 to I-80 westbound will be closed through September 2017. The detour will be US 422 to SR 711 southbound to I-680 northbound to I-80 westbound.
- The ramp from SR 46 to I-80 eastbound will be closed through late August. The detour will be SR 46 to Mahoning Avenue to SR 11 northbound.
The closures were staggered to minimize the impact on drivers, according to Project Superintendent Dan Kirsch.
These ramps are expected to close Monday evening:
- The ramp from I-80 eastbound to US 422 will be closed through July 2017. The detour will be I-680 southbound to SR 711 northbound to US 422.
- The ramp from SR 11 southbound to I-80 eastbound will be closed through September 2017. The detour will be SR 711 southbound to Gypsy Lane eastbound to SR 193/Belmont Avenue.
The remaining ramps are expected to close throughout the week:
- The ramp from SR 711 northbound to I-80 eastbound will be closed through September 2017. The detour will be Gypsy Lane eastbound to SR 193/Belmont Avenue to I-80 eastbound.
- The ramp from I-80 eastbound to SR 11 northbound will be closed through September 2017. The detour will be I-680 southbound to SR 711 northbound to SR 11 northbound.
Last year, ODOT began a $91.2 million project to widen I-80 between SR 46 and SR 193 in Mahoning and Trumbull counties. The project will add a lane of traffic in each direction on I-80, expanding one of the heaviest truck-traveled routes in the country to three lanes in each direction.
Road signs are already posted, showing that the situation for some of the ramp closings will continue for 425 days.
Some drivers say they are frustrated by detours.
“It means I gotta go 10 to 15 minutes out of my way every time. It’s 10 to 15 minutes over, 10 to 15 minutes back,” said John Banks, of Poland. “What frustrates me is the length of time that it has taken, and we’ve seen a lot of times when they’re really not working on this area.”
“Very aggravating. It takes time because this ain’t easy to get around in traffic through these towns and stuff,” Troy Hayes said.
If someone is from out-of-town, the news probably didn’t reach them. Luke Mast was driving from Indiana to a vacation cabin on Monday and said he had no idea about the closures.
Traffic was backed up Monday and going nowhere fast, but workers already milled a major portion of the ramp and expect to get it open within two months.
“There are a couple ramps that we’re looking at. One especially is 11 north. There’s a lot of traffic, a lot of truck traffic on that. We think that we could get the ramp open up like 300 days earlier,” Kirsch said.
Keith Brown, who owns the Daily Grind in Girard, said the closures may actually have a positive effect on his business, as traffic may detour past his coffee shop.
“Most of our customers are everyday, repeat customers that come in and there’s going to be some that maybe that’s the way they go to work, driving past here,” he said. “Then we’re looking at all of our new customers that are going to be driving past here that don’t normally come by here and have a chance to find us. We’re looking at the positive side of it and hoping everything works in our favor.”
The I-80 widening project is a major undertaking to help make the highway wider, safer and improve the bridges and ramps.
Kirsch said one phase of the project is already done.
“Just opened ramp from 11 north to 80 west, opened it 20 days early so that helps out there.”
If you’re looking for updates on traffic patterns, you can find them on ODOT’s new app called OH Go. It gives real-time updates to help you get to where you need to be safely, especially during this construction.