Beginning Friday, drivers who use Interstate 71 in Delaware County should be on the lookout for “slow or stopped traffic” near the near the exit for Routes 36 and 37, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.

In preparation for opening weekend at the new Simon Tanger outlet-store mall in Sunbury, the Ohio Department of Transportation, Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio State Highway Patrol and mall representatives met recently to discuss traffic control as the mall expects 10,000 to 15,000 people during its first weekend, ODOT officials said.

The mall opens Friday.

“The safety of the motoring public is paramount to ODOT,” said Jack R. Marchbanks, District 6 deputy director. “In addition to partnering with local law enforcement, ODOT will utilize several resources, including overhead electronic signs, traffic cameras, roadside message boards and social media to alert drivers of the congestion.”

Some of those message boards will be located in Franklin County before drivers reach the Polaris/Gemini exit, and to the north in Morrow County near Route 61 so drivers can use an alternate route if traffic is backed up on I-71 in Delaware County.

Vehicles stopped on the highway while others are driving by at interstate speeds is extremely dangerous, Marchbanks said. “Coordination and communication is key to a safe weekend,” he said.

ODOT will also assign a State Farm Safety Patrol vehicle that normally patrols the Columbus area to I-71 in Delaware County for the opening weekend. The unit will patrol between Interstate 270 in Franklin County and State Route 61 in Morrow County.

Staff Report

Information for this story was provided by the Ohio Department of Transportation.