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315 to open early

Construction on State Route 315 will conclude sooner than originally scheduled thanks to favorable weather and a rigorous schedule.

By Oct. 3, all three lanes on both northbound and southbound 315 will be open, as well as all entrance and exit ramps, said Nancy Burton, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation.

“We were hoping to have traffic back to normal by Oct. 13,” Burton said. “We are very pleased that we will have both directions of traffic normally configured about two weeks earlier.”

Since June, 315 northbound has been closed for bridgework and paving improvements, forcing both directions of traffic to travel in lanes that were previously southbound 315. Concrete median barriers separated the lanes of opposing traffic.

Beginning Friday evening, construction crews will redirect northbound traffic currently traveling on 315 south to two open lanes of traffic on 315 north across eight bridges and three miles of roadway. Before the Ohio State-Illinois football game Saturday, two lanes of traffic on 315 north will be flowing and the Medical Center Drive and Ackerman Road exit ramps will be open. However, the Medical Center Drive exit is routinely closed on game days until after the game. The Goodale Avenue, Olentangy River Road and Lane Avenue entrance ramps, which have been closed, will open.

The ramp connecting Interstate 670 east and 315 north will open a few days later, Burton said.

“Drivers should keep in mind that final pavement will not yet be completed when we open 315 north,” Burton said. “Permanent pavement will be done next year.”

On Monday, 315 south will remain a two-lane highway while crews work to open all exit ramps. Then, entrances from Olentangy River Road, West North Broadway, Ackerman Road, Lane Avenue and 12th Avenue will open. Once all entrance and exit ramps have been successfully opened, the crew will begin installing sign trestles and removing the concrete median barriers.

“The concrete medians took several days to put in, so they will take several days to move out,” Burton said. “Exactly how long this process will take will depend on how quickly the crew moves.”

At this point, each direction of traffic will remain on its own side of 315.

Burton said drivers should still be cautious while driving on 315 while construction winds down.

“Although the lanes and ramps will be open, it is still an active construction zone,” Burton said. “Drivers need to watch their speed and follow speed limit signs for construction zones.”

Burton said traffic on 315 has significantly dropped since June. She said this is likely because drivers have been choosing alternate routes such as Neil Avenue, Summit Street and Interstate 71 to avoid the construction zone. She said the city of Columbus, ODOT and OSU have worked well together and shared resources to minimize congestion on 315 and alternate routes, especially on home football game days.

The recent phase of construction on 315 was only the first part of a $24 million project. In June 2010, 315 south will close for bridgework and paving, and both directions of traffic will share lanes on 315 north.

“It will be the same process while we work on the south side,” Burton said. “Northbound traffic and southbound traffic will share 315 north.”

Construction on 315 south is scheduled to last for 90 days.

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