Major Upgrade Plans Unveiled

A major interchange upgrade is coming to Belmont County in 2016.

Ohio Department of Transportation officials, Belmont College administrators, state representatives and county commissioners announced the project Thursday. The work at the Interstate 70/U.S. 40/Ohio 331 interchange west of St. Clairsville is part of Gov. John Kasich’s Jobs and Transportation Plan, which will invest nearly $3 billion in state, local and federal funds into 41 transportation projects across the state.

The project is set to begin in 2016 and is expected to take one construction season. Work will include widening U.S. 40, Ohio 331 and Hammond Road, installing a new connector between Ohio 331 and Hammond Road, an improved roadway and interchange design, replacement of the Ohio 331 bridge over I-70, twin bridge deck replacements on I-70 over U.S. 40 and pedestrian facilities within the project limits.

The project cost is $24.1 million with about $1 million for right of way acquisition.

The project is designed to reduce congestion and improve safety and functional deficiencies associated with the existing interchange. Access between I-70 and local government and public facilities, businesses and residences within the interchange area will be improved.

ODOT District 11 Deputy Director Lloyd MacAdam led the announcement and described the project’s value. He said the new route would eliminate unnecessary delays in a major hub of traffic to the college, the Belmont County sheriff’s office and other government buildings.

“Right now there’s major congestion at the ramp. People are backing up,” he said.

He noted that proposed new roadway along the north side of Fox Shannon Park should open new properties for further economic development. He added that planning and consulting began in 2005 and 2006. The availability of funding has made it possible to proceed.

He added that ODOT will begin acquiring rights of way in the next year. Finalizing plans should take nine to 10 months.

MacAdam said a traffic plan will be in place to minimize impact on the traveling public. He said more that 40,000 people use I-70 in the area daily.