There are lots of theories why the numbers do what they do, but whatever the theory, it is true that during holiday periods, drivers do things out of the ordinary, creating traffic hazards and while the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) suspends work on most construction projects during busy holiday weekends, motorists should still leave distance between vehicles, reduce speed, and stay alert – especially in work zones.
“They (drivers) need to be aware of the increase in traffic being the last major summer holiday,” Lieutenant Douglas Debord, Ohio State Highway Patrol Portsmouth Post Commander, said. “There’s going to be an increase in traffic and particular to our area, with the Bypass construction work going on, they’re still going to be out working. So they need to be looking for the workers.”
If you have noticed signs that say fines are doubled in construction areas, there is a good reason.
“ODOT has seen an alarming rise in crashes and fatalities in Ohio’s work zones, where drivers and passengers are more than twice as likely as workers to be victims,” ODOT Director Jerry Wray said. “Last year, Ohio had the highest number of work zone crashes in a decade.”
Motorists can avoid traffic tie-ups during the Labor Day weekend by using ODOT’s new mobile app – OHGO – for personal traffic alerts, information on road construction and travel delays, and hands-free voice on the go. The app is free and is available on the App Store and Google Play.
ODOT and the Ohio State Highway Patrol are joining forces this weekend to remind motorists to “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” So far this year, there have been 214 alcohol-related traffic deaths. Ohio recorded 346 for all of 2015.
Areas you should know about in which you are going to have to use caution or avoid altogether, include the U.S. Grant Bridge (U.S. 23) at Portsmouth. It is closed for a pavement overlay project. The project is scheduled to be completed in late October, and throughout construction, motorists will be detoured via the Carl Perkins Bridge at Kentucky and U.S. 52, west of Portsmouth.
U.S. 23 is reduced to one, 12-foot lane in each direction between Ohio 728 and County Road 55 (Fairground Rd.), north of Lucasville, for interchange and bridge construction and to accommodate trucks crossing the highway for construction of the new Ohio 823 (Portsmouth Bypass).
U.S. 52 at Wheelersburg is reduced to one, 11-foot lane in each direction between the Ohio 140 and the County Road 550/Wheelersburg exits for Mechanically Stabilized Earth wall, bridge and interchange construction for the Bypass.
Ohio 104 in Pike County, is closed between Ohio 552 and Township Road 420 (Boswell Run Rd.) as part of the Lake White Dam rehabilitation and bridge replacement project. In addition, Ohio 551 is closed between its junction with Ohio 104 and County Road 93 (Bricker Rd.), near the park office. Motorists will be detoured by way of U.S. 23 and Ohio 32. Local traffic to the Lake White region will be detoured via Ohio 552 and Ohio 220.
“They need to slow down. They need to pay attention,” Debord said. “They should give themselves an extra few minutes to get where they’re going, especially in our area, because of the construction, because we want it to be a safe holiday.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.