It’s hard to see a light at the end of a tunnel, or, in this case, a bridge, before the bridge is even built.
But the major construction project underway at Interstate 75 and U.S. 224 will one day do wonders for one of the busiest interchanges in this region.
Traffic studies have found more than 20,000 vehicles on U.S. 224 cross the bridge each day while about 50,000 vehicles travel on I-75.
While the overpass replacement may be a headache to motorists and could have an economic impact on some businesses in and around that area, it should greatly improve traffic once it’s completed.
The bridge will feature more and wider lanes. Entrance and exit ramps will be rebuilt. That means better access to restaurants, retail, hotels and other businesses at I-75′s most active Findlay exit.
The improved interchange won’t just benefit the “locals” when done. It will also draw in those who are traveling I-75 or U.S. 224 and looking for a place to eat, sleep or shop.
For six months or so, however, much of Findlay, but particularly the northwest side, will have to learn to live with construction barrels, detours and perhaps more traffic in some places.
On the positive side, because the new bridge will be torn down and rebuilt one side at a time, U.S. 224 will be open to one lane of traffic in each direction for most of the construction.
The bridge will be closed during just two weekends, one at the end of February and one likely in June, as I-75 traffic is diverted up and down the ramps. During those closures, traffic across the bridge, access to U.S. 224 from Interstate 75, and access to all ramps to and from Interstate 75 will be prohibited.
While a U.S. 224 detour will direct motorists along Ohio 12 and Ohio 235 and away from construction zone, we have to believe area residents will still find a way to get to their favorite businesses east and west of the interstate via back roads.
When it’s done, hopefully by fall, the new bridge will have six lanes, with a left-turn lane in each direction, and will be about four feet higher.
A much-needed sidewalk, meanwhile, will be added to the south side of the bridge from Broad Avenue to North Ridge Road. That, too, will provide better access to both sides of I-75.
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