By Liz Oakes
Enquirer staff writer
FOREST PARK - Get ready for more orange barrels on Interstate 275.
State transportation officials plan to spend $117 million to widen part of the crowded northern beltway, with construction to begin in 2007.
The Ohio Department of Transportation said Tuesday it plans to add an extra lane both ways - and possibly sound-muffling walls - to a section of interstate from Winton Road to U.S. 42.
The aim is to ease congestion that has steadily grown over the past 10 years on the northern loop of the interstate, said ODOT spokesman Ron Moseby.
According to the transportation agency's most recent count in Hamilton County, in 2002, traffic on the seven-mile stretch jumped 12 percent in eight years to an average of more than 100,000 vehicles a day.
That's one of the highest traffic volumes in Greater Cincinnati, according to ODOT figures.
The two-year project may also include $1.3 million on 16-foot concrete sound barriers if the majority of people living along the highway in Forest Park and Springdale say they want them, Moseby said.
Among Forest Park and Springdale residents who responded to an ODOT survey this summer, just over 60 percent were in favor of installing the sound walls, according to Forest Park officials.
Forest Park City Manager Ray Hodges said the city also would like to see a new off-ramp from I-275 to relieve traffic tie-ups on Winton Road, lately worsened by shoppers bound for the newly renovated Cincinnati Mills mall.
If Forest Park and the mall can work out an arrangement, "we would be willing to accommodate that," Moseby said.
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