The Ohio Department of Transportation plans to invest $1.92 billion into 956 transportation projects during the 2021 construction season to help improve statewide safety and mobility.
[Above photo by the Ohio DOT.]
The agency said its 2021 construction program includes improvements to 876 bridges and 4,596 miles of pavement, with 96 cents of every dollar invested going toward making sure existing roads and bridges are in good condition and as safe as possible.
There are 266 safety projects included in the 2021 construction program. Funds for 131 of those projects – worth $178 million in total – are coming through the ODOT Highway Safety Improvement Program. A portion of these funds will go to local municipalities, townships, and counties to make safety improvements on roads they maintain, the agency said.
“Ohio’s ability to safely and easily move people and goods is vital as we continue to recover from the global pandemic,” explained Governor Mike DeWine (R) in a statement.
“There are many infrastructure projects throughout the state that will improve safety for motorists,” he said. “We also need motorists to pay attention and not drive distracted, and to slow down in construction zones.”
An increase in the state motor fuel tax that went into effect on July 1, 2019, has also allowed the Ohio DOT to keep maintenance and safety projects on schedule despite a 15.5 percent drop in 2020 traffic volume – a drop due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Thanks to the foresight of Gov. DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly and internal operational savings identified by our workforce, we have been able to weather this global pandemic,” explained Jack Marchbanks, Ohio DOT’s director.
“Without those extra funds, we would be nearly a billion dollars in the red,” he said. “While other states have been delaying or cancelling projects, Ohio continues moving forward.”
The agency added that this nearly $2 billion in funding will also target more than 150 intersection improvements prioritized by Gov. DeWine in early 2019. Those projects include simple adjustments like changing signage and striping to more complex solutions like the full reconstruction of an intersection.
To date, the agency completed work on 36 locations, with 43 under construction or slated to start soon in 2021. A further 101 intersection improvements are in the design phase, with four projects still being studied.
“We engineer our roads to be as safe as possible, but we need motorists to do their part by obeying speed limits, paying attention, buckling up, and driving sober,” Marchbanks noted – adding that it is more important than ever that motorists follow Ohio’s move over law, which requires drivers to move over for any roadside vehicles with flashing lights.
The Ohio DOT noted that the state experienced 4,536 work zone crashes in 2020. Of those, 18 crashes were fatal and 96 resulted in serious injuries. Additionally, agency crews were hit 125 times while on the job in 2020, with crews hit 52 times already in 2021.
“Drivers should always pay attention, but work zones require extra attention,” Marchbanks stressed. “Just like you, these workers want to go home at the end of the day.”