Patience is a virtue that will hopefully be in long supply in the coming months as the much-anticipated $8.1 million state Route 256 Safety Project is about to commence.

Patience is a virtue that will hopefully be in long supply in the coming months as the much-anticipated $8.1 million state Route 256 Safety Project is about to commence.

Motorists traversing Route 256 in Pickerington are being advised by city officials to be prepared for the start of major roadway construction along the corridor next week.

With almost 50,000 vehicles driving the road every day, the goal of the project will be to widen, pave and beautify both the road and overall corridor in order to reduce congestion and increase aesthetics.

Pickerington officials said they want to make it clear they believe delays and the potential general aggravation will be well worth it once the project is complete.

In the meantime, the official mantra is: be patient.

"We do expect delays, and the first few weeks may be difficult as traffic gets used to the new pattern and people figure out different commute patterns," said Scott Tourville Pickerington city engineer.

First off will be removal of more than 240 blooming white pear trees that line the corridor from Interstate 70 to the Kroger/Giant Eagle intersection traffic signal, a task necessary in order to accommodate construction.

More durable trees such as shumard oak, sterling silver linden and pioneer elm will eventually be planted in their place.

"The contractor is responsible for that work, and it will begin by early in the week of April 27, weather permitting," Tourville said.

City Manager Bill Vance said removal of the trees "will be followed later in 2015 with the installation of around 400 better located new state Route 256 commercial corridor beautification trees."

Contractors have already moved in equipment to prepare for the project, including the installation of message boards which will alert commuters of construction activity.

Sidewalks, curbs and gutters are also being removed at isolated spots.

The Ohio Department of Transportation will fund an estimated $7 million towards the cost of the project with the city of Pickerington kicking in around $1 million.

The project is expected to be completed by late October 2015. The scope of work will be extensive and includes:

• The addition of a third southbound lane between state Route 204 and the Kroger/Giant Eagle traffic signal

• Creation of a new southbound right turn lane from Route 256 to westbound Refugee Road.

• The addition of a third northbound lane located south of Route 204.

• The addition of a fourth northbound lane between just north of Rt. 204 and the I-70 eastbound entrance ramp

The work will include installation of grass medians that will help control access and improve traffic flow as well as significant lighting upgrades to nine existing traffic signals.

In addition, about 6 miles of Route 256 will be resurfaced from I-70 all the way to the city's community gardens at the city boundary line.

"Paving work is expected to begin in late May or early June," Tourville said.

He said from now until the middle of summer, the contractor will be working on the outside lanes of Route 256 between I-70 and the Kroger/Giant Eagle signal.

In order to facilitate the reduction of congestion during rush hours, all existing northbound lanes will be open from 6 to 9 a.m. and all southbound lanes will be open from 4 to 7 p.m.

Other than those times, drivers can expect lane closures in each direction, but at least one northbound and one southbound lane will be open at all times during the project.

Questions regarding the Route 256 Safety Project can be directed to Tourville at PavingForProgress@Pickerington.net