If you usually head down South Third Street in downtown Columbus after work to get onto the Interstate 70 ramp heading east toward home, you might want to start making some detour plans.
You have some time to do that because it won’t be until September when the Ohio Department of Transportation permanently closes that ramp as part of its continuing reconstruction of Interstates 70 and 71 through downtown Columbus.
The problem is that ODOT doesn’t plan to open its new ramp from eastbound Fulton Street to eastbound I-70 until July 2021.
“We’re going to have to promote lots of different alternative routes,” ODOT spokeswoman Breanna Badanes said.
More than 21,000 vehicles head south on South Third Street near Mound Street every day, according to Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission traffic counts.
Badanes said possible detours include:
• Taking Interstate 670 east to I-71 south to I-70 east.
• Taking state Route 315 south from Dublin Road to I-70 east.
• Taking Main Street or Livingston Avenue eastbound to Alum Creek Drive to I-70 east.
Badanes said drivers cannot use the Broad Street ramp south to I-71 south to I-70 east.
Columbus Division of Police Lt. Paul Weiner, who oversees traffic operations, said he knew nothing about the ramp closure. He said he expects a meeting with construction companies to occur at some point so police can plan.
That project is among several major ones the state will continue to tackle in Franklin County during the summer travel season that often extends into September.
The work includes the addition of an eastbound “SmartLane” on Interstate 670 between downtown Columbus and the 670/270 interchange, where crews are building new ramps, and the ongoing “megafix” on I-71 between downtown and Grove City.
This year’s work on I-70/I-71 through downtown will cost $72 million, Badanes said. Besides the Fulton Street ramp, the work includes:
• Reconstructing and widening I-70 east from South Fourth Street to Miller Avenue.
• Building a new ramp from I-70 east to Parsons Avenue.
• Reconstructing Mooberry Street from Parsons Avenue to South 18th Street.
• Reconstructing Fulton Street from South Third Street to South Fourth Street.
Also, crews will close Parsons Avenue between East Main Street and Livingston Avenue for 60 days beginning in August. ODOT is building an eastbound I-70 bridge over Parsons.
Meanwhile, eastbound I-670’s SmartLane is scheduled to open this fall. The SmartLane pilot program will be opened when traffic is congested, likely during the afternoon commute.
Work also continues on the two new ramps and bridges from eastbound I-670 to northbound I-270 that are designed to separate traffic heading north on I-270 or toward Easton Way and state Route 161.
Those ramps and bridges are scheduled to be completed by fall, easing the headaches of drivers who are stuck behind backed-up traffic through the area.
The entire $60 million project is supposed to be finished by June 2020.
As for the seven miles of work along I-71 between downtown Columbus and Grove City, Badanes said, much of the pavement work was completed last year and much of this year’s work involves bridges and ramps.
Other projects include widening and replacing the I-71 bridges over Big Darby Creek, a $12.6 million project that is expected to be completed by November 2020; reconstructing pavement on I-70 in Madison County between Route 42 and the Franklin County line, a $50 million project expected to be complete by October 2020; and the $14 million widening of U.S. Route 33 between I-270 and Hamilton Road in southeastern Franklin County, which is scheduled to be finished by October.