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ODOT plans to add SmartLane to I-71 to help traffic flow, rush hour

The project in total will cost $90 million. Work won't begin until 2025.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Bumper-to-bumper traffic to immediate stops are the makings of rush hour that many people experience every weekday.

That’s why the Ohio Department of Transportation is working on a way to make rush hour on Interstate 71 in Columbus a little better. 

"If you've traveled on I-71, really if you're going south in the morning or you're trying to traverse north in the evening: congestion,” said Brooke Ebersole, a public information officer with ODOT. 

Ebersole said they’re seeing more crashes happen on this stretch of road because of rush hour traffic. 

"As traffic levels have continued to kind of rise up into those pre-pandemic levels, we're only seeing the congestion through this corridor get worse," Ebersole said.

ODOT is in the beginning stages of adding a SmartLane to help the congestion in that area.  

It uses the existing shoulder as an additional lane of travel during heavy congestion and closes when it's not needed.

"We're not adding lanes, we're not widening the highway. We are choosing to utilize infrastructure that is already there,” said Ebersole. 

This SmartLane will start at I-71 north at 5th Avenue stretching to Dublin-Granville Road. It's similar to what is along I-670 East headed toward the airport. 

Ebersole said they’re wanting your input on the project. She said there will be a public meeting on May 25, one in person at the Linden Community Center from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm and a virtual option at noon. 

"We have every reason to believe these SmartLanes are safe and improve our reliability of infrastructure across the state,” said Ebersole.

The project in total will cost $90 million. Work won't begin until 2025.

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