People in Powell are happy because work is finally complete at the intersection of state routes 750 and 315, aka Powell and Olentangy River roads, just before the start of school.
Due to the recent spell of sunny summer weather, crews were able to complete construction a couple of days ahead of schedule. An alert from the Ohio Department of Transportation was sent before the morning commute Friday. “Overnight work completed on construction at 315 and 750,” it read. “All lanes, including left turn lanes, now open.”
The $3.5 million project, which began in earnest in 2013, is intended to decrease congestion at the heavily traveled intersection by adding turn lanes on both routes; and to stabilize the surrounding hillside.
Recently, workers used sculpting tools to shape “shotcrete” — concrete that is sprayed onto the slope instead of being poured — so that it looks like a natural barrier from the side of the road.
“It’s not rock, but it looks like rock,” said ODOT spokeswoman Nancy Burton. “People go by it and say the carved rock is pretty cool-looking.”
Last year, ODOT tried to shore up the hillside with walls of vegetation using baskets filled with soil and plants. However, the baskets began crumbling, and the concrete retaining wall became the alternative.
“This has been a pretty major development, the hillside and the drainage, making those improvements,” Burton said. “With the limited space to work, I don’t know how those guys do it.”
The slope was stabilized along “two sections of 315, just north of Jewett Road and just north of 750,” states an ODOT update. “The Olentangy River has eroded the riverbank at these locations, causing distress to 315.”
When the slope stabilization project went before the public in 2008, one of the comments was to limit semi-truck traffic on 315, since it is along the river. However, all state highways are open to all vehicles of legal size and weight, ODOT states.
Since the project began, motorists have had to endure road closures, detours and lane closures.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.