Progress made on construction at the east side split


One of central Ohio’s most used highway interchanges has seen a lot of construction over the last few years but by the end of this year, motorists will get a taste of what the progress looks like.

ODOT tells 10TV that crews are close to completing a milestone at the I-70/I-71 split.

That milestone, the Grant Avenue bridge, is the first big step for the current work being done, according to Natina Ariss, ODOT engineer and I-70/I-71 project manager.

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“The bridge is kind of driving the schedule,” said Ariss, who is one of the only female construction workers in her district, and one of very few female project managers, meaning she oversees all the work done on the project.

The Grant Avenue bridge is just a portion of some of the upcoming improvements.

“The goal is to have Mound Street, Fulton Street, Grant and the main line in its final configuration, meaning where traffic will finally be by December 31 of this year,” Ariss said.

Drivers may wonder how downtown streets like Mound are connected to the highway work, but once it is all complete, the sites will fit together like one big puzzle, she said.

“Ultimately, at the end of this project, Mound Street and Fulton Street are going to be your main access to the city of Columbus and there are going to be ramps on each end both the east interchange and the west interchange,” Ariss explained.

The project that includes construction on Mount Street, Fulton Street and the Grant Avenue bridge is all included in the first of five projects taking place over the next approximately seven years.

According to ODOT, here are some of the benefits drivers will experience from the project:

An additional lane in each direction on I-70/71: That means two continuous lanes for I-70 east and west and I-71 north and south. This does not include separate lanes for entrance and exit ramps.

By adding lanes, we will eliminate nearly 70% of the traffic lane changes made on I-70/71. We will also remove many significant bottlenecks and back-ups on I-70/71.

Elimination of free-flow ramps at downtown street intersections: That means ramp intersections with these city streets will be signalized for safer pedestrian crossings. The ramps that will be fully signalized include I-70 east to Front St. and Broad St. west to I-71 north. Ramps that will remain free-flow, but be signalized in future projects are I-71 south to Main St. and Main St. east/Parsons Ave. north to I-71 north.

New ramp for I-70 eastbound to Parsons Avenue: The new ramp at Parsons Ave. will replace the exit to 18th St. and provide access to the Near East Side and South Side neighborhoods, as well as direct access to Nationwide Children’s Hospital emergency room.

Improve safety at three of the state’s top 10 crash locations: I-70 over SR 315, I-70 just east of SR 315 & I-70/71 near Front St.

Some of the city street improvements include:

Mound Street: Complete construction of Mound St. from Washington to Short St. Mound St. will be one-way only with three westbound lanes from Washington to Front St. There will be sidewalks, brick crosswalks, streetscaping and a bike lane.

Fulton Street: One-way street with three eastbound lanes from Front St. to Grant Ave. There will be sidewalks, brick crosswalks, streetscaping and a bike lane. The City of Columbus also plans to convert Front St. to two-way traffic between Livingston Ave. and Mound St.

Elijah Pierce Avenue: One-way urban avenue on the east side of I-71. The first block of Elijah Pierce was constructed during the I-71/670 project. Elijah Pierce will be constructed with three northbound lanes, a sidewalk, a bike lane and streetscaping between Broad and Long St.

Lester Drive: One-way urban avenue on the west side of I-71. The first block of Lester Dr. was constructed during the I-71/670 project. Lester will be constructed with three southbound lanes, a sidewalk, bike lane and streetscaping between Long and Broad St.

New Bridges at Front Street, Grant Avenue and Broad Street: These new bridges will include wider sidewalks, decorative bridge features and

While some drivers may consider all the orange barrels and speed reductions a headache right now, Ariss told 10TV the adjustments will be worth it in the end.

“Be patient. Yes, it's frustrating with what's going on, but it's a first step in something that is ultimately going to make traveling through here a lot easier,” she said. “This is a main thoroughfare for I-70 through Columbus, not just for Columbus. So as the city grows, as more people are using the roadways, it just helps with the movement of traffic.

Access more information on the project by clicking here.