Tuesday, March 30, 1999

I-71 stall? Expect 25 minutes

Meeting today on repair backups

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — The more commuters know, the less they'll be irritated.

        That's the hope of state transportation officials holding a public meeting today in Mason about the upcoming construction on Interstate 71 and the long delays commuters can expect.

        “Our goal is to get as much information out there as possible to let them know what they can expect,” said Kim Patton, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). “Hopefully, the more information they have, the less likely they'll be irritated.”

        The 10 a.m. meeting will be at the Golf Center, 6042 FairwayDrive in Mason. Starting April 5, about 12 miles of I-71 north from Ohio 48 to Ohio 73 will be closed to one lane each way for seven months of rebuilding and repaving.

        On weekends, Ms. Patton said drivers can expect three miles of backups, which could mean up to 25 minutes of bumper-to-bumper traffic. Rush hour will clog that portion of the interstate, which carries about 35,000 cars a day.

        Ms. Patton warned that Friday and Sunday evenings may be especially problematic in the summer because of vacationers. A second project starting in July and running into next summer will involve expanding I-71 from two to three lanes each way from I-275 to Western Row Road. The expansion will eventually create an extra lane up to Ohio 48.

        Warren County's explosive growth prompted the second project. Population in the county has increased 28 percent since 1990.

        From 1986 to 1994, the number of cars traveling north of I-275 on I-71 jumped 50 percent, to a daily count of 77,130.


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