Bridge work progressing

ST.?CLAIRSVILLE — Anyone who has ever checked their rear-view mirror and made a split-second decision about how fast an oncoming tractor-trailer was approaching as they entered Interstate 70 west from Ohio 9 likely will appreciate the end result of an ongoing construction project at that interchange.

Work began in March to rehabilitate the interstate bridge that crosses Ohio 9, as well as to replace one just to the west that passes above the National Road Bikeway.

The goal is not only to improve those structures, but also to lengthen the on-ramp and improve safety.

Ohio Department of Transportation Project Engineer Brett Porter said work on the westbound lanes of I-70 over Ohio 9 has reached the point where crews with Beaver Excavating Co. of Canton, Ohio, are preparing to drill shafts for new bridge abutments. After work on that side of the bridge is complete, eastbound traffic will be diverted to the widened westbound lanes, which will include a longer on-ramp that will be shifted slightly to the north of its present location.

Work on the eastbound side of the bridge over Ohio 9 can then begin. Porter said four lanes of traffic will be maintained at all times.

At the nearby bike path, Porter said a culvert already is in place that will serve as the heart of a tunnel for pedestrian and bicycle use. Building the tunnel will allow ODOT to lengthen the Ohio 9 on-ramp by widening the roadway over the trail.

Pedestrian and bicycle access to the National Road Bikeway is being maintained with a temporary trail.

Work in the area is expected to continue for about another year. The completion date is Aug. 31, 2014, and the total project cost is about $9.7 million.