Motorists traveling state Routes 16 and 161 near Granville will see a new traffic pattern starting this week.

Motorists traveling state Routes 16 and 161 near Granville will see a new traffic pattern starting this week.

The grassy median on westbound Route 16, west of Route 16's split from Route 161, has been paved for traffic crossover.

Dave Johnson, senior project engineer for the Ohio Department of Transportation, said on Thursday that if weather permits, crews will set stripes on the road Monday and direct the westbound lanes into the current eastbound lane where the road changes from two to four lanes.

Keeping traffic in the eastbound lanes will allow crews to finish the new westbound lanes being completed as part of the new four-lane limited-access highway being built between Granville and New Albany.

Most of the westbound lanes on the new Route 161 are being built north of the existing road. The eastbound lanes will use portions of the existing Route 161, and new parts are being built south of the existing road.

County Road 539A, which connects with the existing Route 161 west of Granville, will be closed in two to three weeks and eventually will tie into Route 161 at the state Route 37 interchange, Johnson said. County Road 539A will run parallel to the new highway.

Morse Road is being repaved to reconnect temporarily with the existing route at its current intersection. Johnson said that will ease some of the traffic congestion in the area until the new bridges are built just east of Morse and traffic can run along the new bridges. The new road includes bridges being built several feet higher than the existing road. A new bridge being built north of the existing route, near the Raccoon International Golf Course, will open first. The existing bridge then will be raised near the height of the bridge to the north. The bridges probably will not open until August, Johnson said.

A traffic signal near the golf-course entrance will be used at night again, when construction vehicles frequently cross the highway.

Johnson said the project requires moving a lot of dirt from the south to the north side of the existing highway. Much of the dirt work will be done at night, as will paving. The signal will be activated in the evenings only when trucks need to cross the road.

The crews have been working throughout the days, and more night crews are expected to begin work soon.

The entire project is on schedule and is expected to be completed Sept. 30, 2009, Johnson said.

He said the construction crews with Kokosing Construction have not had trouble starting new traffic patterns. He pointed out, though, that it is a busy two-lane road.

Lt. Lawrence Roseboro, post commander of the Granville post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, said the area has not had a lot of accidents or speeding tickets issued during construction, nor has the post had to step up patrols in the area.

"The speeds have not been egregious," Roseboro said, adding that he considers speeds of more than 20 mph over the posted speed limit a real concern in an area like that.

"It's a major arterial connection between Newark and Columbus, and with the sheer volume of traffic on that road, we do have some assured-clear-distance-ahead accidents, where people are following to closely," he said. "Our officers get out there on a daily basis, to be a visual deterrent and prevent problems."

Roseboro said the post will monitor the new road for high speeds after it opens. He said the Lancaster post experienced a lot of speeding when the new four-lane U.S. Route 33 opened in Lancaster's patrol area.

He suggests people going through the construction zone remember that fines are doubled in those areas.

"Give yourself some extra time," he said. "There's a lot of traffic on that two-way road."

lwince@thisweeknews.com