Drivers can expect the usual traffic patterns when heading to the Delaware County Fair today.
The U.S. Route 23/Pennsylvania Avenue interchange was partially re-opened to traffic Friday afternoon, according to Nancy Burton, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation District 6.
There is now a two-way extension that now allows southbound traffic on Route 23 to exit onto North Sandusky Street, while Sandusky’s northbound traffic can only exit onto Route 23 southbound.
But the ramp from North Sandusky Street to Route 23 northbound is open as always, Burton said.
“We are very happy that they were able to get the U.S. 23/Penn Ave. exit open. That will help a lot with traffic in and out of the fairgrounds,” said Sandy Kuhn, the fair’s general manager.
City spokesman Lee Yoakum applauded ODOT’s efforts to have the exit ready before the fair kicked-off today.
ODOT was uncertain it would have the exit ready about a month ago, he said, and the city had started contingency plans.
“We’re fortunate we don’t have to deal with that,” Yoakum said.
Kuhn said there are no other major changes for handling traffic this year. The fair runs 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. through next Saturday. General admission includes free parking every day except a $5 per car fee on Jug Day, which is expected to attract more than 40,000 visitors.
“It’s a world-class event,” said Capt. Scott Vance of the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office.
Vance’s agency and Delaware police will coordinate traffic for Thursday’s event. Jug Day traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue from Sandusky Street to the Euclid Avenue gate will be westbound only from dawn to noon, while traffic on Pennsylvania from Troy Road to the Euclid Avenue gate will be eastbound from dawn to noon.
In the afternoon, four Pennsylvania Avenue gates will be used to exit traffic and drivers will need to follow directions at the gate, Yoakum said.
“We just encourage residents to be patient,” he said.
ODOT will conclude the interchange project in three to four weeks depending on weather, Burton said. The traffic signal will then become operational allowing northbound traffic on Route 23 to exit onto North Sandusky Street.
When ODOT closed the exit on March 15, the configuration did not allow northbound Route 23 traffic to exit onto Pennsylvania Avenue and traffic from Pennsylvania could not travel southbound on Route 23.
“That movement from northbound 23 to North Sandusky Street never existed,” Burton said. “Well it did but it was illegal to make that left turn; yet drivers did it.”
“But as for the detour for that movement, there was no need since it didn’t exist,” she said.
The exit was built in the 1960s as a partial movement interchange to save costs and promote traffic through the downtown, according to the city’s website. As traffic volume increased over the years, the interchange became inadequate to move drivers safely and efficiently.
“The construction project now makes it a legal maneuver from northbound 23 to North Sandusky Street,” she said.
Brandon Klein can be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.