Johnstown residents who take U.S. Route 62 to and from state Route 161 will have to find an alternate route this summer because of a bridge replacement and road resurfacing.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is closing Johnstown Road for 45 days beginning July 8 to replace a bridge between Tippet Road and Walnut Street, and it will begin paving 10 miles of Johnstown Road from the Franklin County line to the Licking County line on the same day.
"The bridge closure in conjunction with the repaving is going to be a headache for the traveling public," said Jim Lenner, Johnstown's village manager. "Taking (state Route) 37 to (state Route) 310 to get to (state Route) 161 may be the easiest way to avoid the area. Visitors to the area who are unfamiliar may not have the local knowledge to get around. But everyone has GPS now to help them get around."
ODOT is spending $501,865 to replace a large culvert or bridge on Johnstown Road that was built in 1961 and spans the Blacklick Creek, said Breanna Watzka, spokeswoman for ODOT District 6.
"The bridge is over 50 years old, which is why it needs replaced," she said. "It's deteriorated over the years, and once it's past 50 years old, we try to replace them."
Watzka said an estimated 12,800 cars and 590 trucks use that stretch of road daily. ODOT engineers consider it to be "busy but not overcrowded."
ODOT's recommended detour from Johnstown to New Albany -- what Lenner also recommends -- follows state Route 37 east to state Route 310, to state Route 161 west back to Johnstown Road.
Motorists traveling to Johnstown from points west would take Route 161 east to Route 310 north to Route 37 west.
"For ODOT projects, the assigned detour has to be on state routes," Watzka said. "That's why our detour is on state routes and may take a little longer. Locals can take other roads or other detours to go around (construction). They will be able to turn on Walnut and Tippet, as well. We assign detours on state routes because where we are sending traffic, we need to make sure those roads can handle the traffic."
That's not the only part of Route 62 where Johnstown residents will see orange barrels, though.
ODOT District 5 on July 8 will start paving 10 miles of Johnstown Road from the Franklin-Licking county line through the village of Johnstown.
One lane of traffic will be maintained from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays during construction.
The $2.4 million project is expected to be done by Nov. 15.
Ben Collins, Plain Township administrator, said the detours for both projects "will not likely have a negative impact on township residents, although some traffic will find its way through alternative routes on rural roads."
He agreed with Lenner and said the paving project may actually "encourage traffic to use the official detour to avoid delays from Johnstown to the county line."