Johnstown Independent

Route 62 closure

Locals longing for road projects to end

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Construction crews have closed U.S. Route 62 about two miles north of New Albany, near Walnut Street. The construction, which began July 8 and is expected to last 45 days, has shut down the main route from Columbus to Johnstown.

Johnstown residents who navigate U.S. Route 62 to and from state Route 161 have been forced to use alternate routes as crews continue to replace a bridge and resurface the road.

The projects also have businesses longing for their end.

"You've taken away most of the summer for us, which is when we do our business," said Jacob Redman, manager of Route 62 Barbecue. "I'd say we've noticed a 20-percent decrease in lunch sales, and for people traveling to Mount Vernon, this is their way home."

Redman is glad, however, that the projects are simultaneous.

"I know road closures can be a pain, but they're doing all these projects at one time," he said, "and that's a good thing."

Beginning July 8, the Ohio Department of Transportation closed Johnstown Road for 45 days to replace the bridge between Tippet Road and Walnut Street, and it began paving 10 miles of Johnstown Road, from the Franklin-Licking county line through downtown Johnstown.

ODOT is spending more than $500,000 to replace a large culvert or bridge that was built in 1961 and spans Blacklick Creek. An estimated 12,800 cars and 590 trucks use that stretch of road daily.

"The bridge didn't pass inspection so it was in need of an upgrade," Village Manager Jim Lenner said. "We know it's an inconvenience, and most people have avoided the area. We get constant complaints about how bad the pavement is; then when ODOT fixes it, we get complaints that you can't get through town."

Lenner recommends taking state Route 37 east to state Route 310 south to get to state Route 161. For those traveling to Johnstown from points west, Route 161 east to Route 310 north to Route 37 west is ODOT's recommended route. ODOT detours follow state routes, but locals usually find other roads around the construction.

Redman said the detour signs aren't very clear, though.

"You don't really know it until you get to it," he said. "We've had some customers get lost, and I know people are sitting in traffic and they're not stopping because that's not a lot of fun."

The $2.4 million repaving project is expected to be completed by Nov. 15. One lane of traffic is being maintained from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

For the bridge replacement, contractors are fined for every day over the project deadline, Lenner said.