Mall Ring Road Scheduled to Close in October, Traffic Will Be Diverted

Photo by Robert DeFrank After close to two years of work, the Mall Ring Road connector project nears completion. On Oct. 1, a portion of Mall Road will close and traffic will be diverted across the new bridge to the site of Buffalo Wild Wings and the Residence Inn.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The Ohio Department of Transportation and the Belmont County Commissioners have said the project to construct a connector road from the Ohio Valley Mall to the city of St. Clairsville is nearing completion.

Mall Ring Road, from the back of the mall to the Residence Inn and Buffalo Wild Wings, will close Oct. 1 for a period of five weeks so that a portion of the existing road can be torn out and rebuilt. Detour signs will be posted and fliers will be placed at the mall, the restaurant and the hotel to alert motorists of the change.

ODOT Spokeswoman Lauren Borell said the state’s transportation department was pleased to see the new bridge put to use, even for a limited time.

“We’re excited for this project to move forward,” she said. “This is only for traffic to be going to the restaurant and the hotel during this work, and then once this work is completed, that portion will close again, when we have the loop road open, for finishing work to be completed…It’s limited used for the Buffalo Wild Wings and the hotel.”

ODOT had thought the road might be open in mid-September.

However, it was stalled by the need to coordinate with utility providers.

Borell said ODOT would not speculate on a possible date for total project completion, but she said it does not foresee delays beyond potential weather issues.

Belmont County Commissioner Mark Thomas expressed hope that the project could be completed before the holiday season. He said the county has joined ODOT in getting word out.

“The opening of the bridge signals that the project is close to its final completion,” Thomas said.

He said while people who live here will find it easily, the signs will help out-of-town drivers.

“It’s imperative that we give the public as much notice as possible so that these two businesses can continue to fully operate and receive customers during this five-week period,” Thomas said.

He also said putting the bridge in use would allow the roadwork to be completed in half the time.

“The road closure from Mall Ring Road back to these two businesses will be completed in five weeks, which is half the time that was originally proposed when the project was first designed (two years ago),” Thomas said. “It will allow the contractor to tear out the existing road in its entirety, put whatever utilities, culverts, pipes and catch basins, and a complete new pavement so the design and construction will take less time and be a better end product.

“If you’re anywhere on Mall Road, or if you’re coming off of (Interstate 70) and Mall Road, either eastbound or westbound, there will be signage as soon as you exit I-70,” he said. “It will show the detour to (U.S. 40). If you’re on (U.S. 40) and not on I-70, there will be signage.”

Employees at the hotel and restaurant said they are glad to see the project nearing completion.

“It’s more exciting than anything,” said Jake Becker, front desk attendant at the Residence Inn.

Becker said the new road should allow patrons to find the hotel more easily.

“We’ve been here since 2016,” he said. “People had to go behind the mall and hope for the best to find this driveway.”

Alita East, general manager of Buffalo Wild Wings, said she hopes people will follow the detour signs to find them.

“With all the directional signage, I think people will definitely find it easier to make their way over to us, and then hopefully once both roadways are open, it’ll be even more convenient for everybody,” she said. “The relationship (with ODOT) has been good. They’ve been having decent communication with us, kind of keeping us in the loop and taking any feedback or suggestions we might have to make it an easier transition for everyone involved.

“We’re definitely happy to see the finish line here,” East said. “We’re hoping to get more neighbors out of the finished product.”

The project includes the construction of the 1.67-mile connector road from U.S. 40 across I-70 to the intersection of Mall and Banfield roads, reconstructing 0.59 miles of the existing Mall Ring Road and building the new bridge over I-70.

The road will continue north from there to the Commons Mall Crossing Road. It was built by the Belmont County Transportation Improvement District in 2015 and connects to U.S. 40. The goal is reduce traffic congestion and increase access to the retail sites in the area, including the Ohio Valley Plaza and the mall.

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