Road widening project discussed in Girard

DISCUSSING I-80 WIDENING PROJECT
The Ohio Department of Transportation held a public meeting on Thursday night to talk about plans to combine two construction projects in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

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Rows and tables of maps and charts spelled out ODOT’s plans to widen Interstate 80 from the state Route 11 interchange, all the way up to state Route 193.

“It’s about a six-mile stretch of pavement that we’re proposing to widen from four lanes to six lanes,” said Justin Chesnic, ODOT public information officer.

Chesnic said it’s a congested area where a lot of accidents happen and there is a lot of truck traffic.

“This portion of Interstate 80 is actually the second busiest truck traffic area in the state of Ohio, so by widening it you’ll be able to lessen the congestion a little bit, get traffic flowing a little bit better,” said Chesnic.

“Travel it with the truck traffic, I think we need the expansion,” said Tom Borocz, a resident of Girard.

Homeowners who live near the proposed construction area came to find out what this means for them, and most are concerned about one issue.

“We can’t even use our backyard because of the noise,” said John Burke from Liberty Township.

A traffic noise analysis looked at nine noise areas when it comes to traffic to decide if noise walls were needed. Only two areas met the criteria: The north side of Interstate 80 and east of U.S. Route 422, and the north side of I-80 near Webb Road and Mulburry Run.

“The sound barrier is going to be on the other side of the highway,” said Burke, who does not live in either area.

It’s the exact opposite for Renee Watts of Girard, who said she wants work to start as soon as possible.

“Very, very happy. Don’t care about color, don’t care about style, just want the wall up,” said Watts.

People at the meeting were encouraged to give ODOT feedback.

The price tag on the project is sitting at about $80 million. ODOT also wants to combine another $20 million project in the mix.

“We also have a bridge replacement of a couple bridges and widening a couple bridges there, just west of the U.S. 422, Interstate 80 interchange,” said Chesnic.

If the projects get the go ahead, construction should start in the summer of 2015 and wrap up in the fall of 2017.

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