“Malfunction junction” was declared dead Thursday at a celebratory completion of the I-75 Modernization Project, which state transportation officials say ended one year early and nearly $1 million under budget.
Officials hope the completion of the $306 million, four-and-a-half mile road project will improve safety and ease decades of frustration with the heavily-traveled downtown stretch that around 128,000 cars and trucks travel each day.
Rob Griffith, Federal Highway Administration assistant division administrator, said the four-mile stretch of highway replaced in the modernization project formerly saw an average of 325 accidents per year.
“Right now, we’ve just finished this project and we’re seeing roughly 225 crashes per year, so we’ve seen a decrease already of 100 crashes per year,” Griffith said.
The project relied on the use of monetary incentives to encourage the contractors to complete the work ahead of schedule. An ODOT spokeswoman could not immediately confirm whether Kokosing Construction received a $3 million bonus for the completion, but officials indicated the incentives were a major part of getting the construction work done ahead of schedule.
“Waving extra dollars at contractors, I think they sharpen their pencils, they get their A-team on board and they march ahead and get it done,” said Randy Chevalley, ODOT District 7 deputy director. “They’ve got that next project they want to do. They’re in business to make money.”
The project was built in three segments:
- Phase 1A began in October 2007 and saw the reconstruction of the I-75 and State Route 4 interchange, including the elimination of a sharp curve and left lane ramps. The Main Street exit was upgraded and three continuous lanes were built from Main Street to Stanley Avenue. Kokosing Construction completed the project in fall 2011 at a cost of $122 million.
- Phase 1B broke ground in March 2010 and built a three-lane stretch from Edwin C. Moses Boulevard to Fifth Street and rebuilt portions of the existing U.S. Route 35 interchange ramps. The Ruhlin Company completed the project in fall 2013 at a cost of $58 million.
- Phase 2, the final segment of the project, kicked off in spring 2013 in order to connect Phases 1A and 1B by constructing three continuous lanes between the complete phases. The project included the reconstruction of 12 bridges and eliminated left lane entrances and exits. The project was completed by Kokosing Construction at a cost of $126 million.
Chevalley noted construction will continue in the area around the completed I-75 stretch. That work includes the continuation of construction on the U.S. 35 portions of the interchange with I-75, technically a separate project, and the eventual replacement of the I-75 bridges near Edwin C. Moses Boulevard and Wagoner Ford Road.
But for the project at hand, ODOT officials focused on celebrating the accomplishment alongside several dozen construction workers. Randy Winals, a labor foreman with Kokosing Construction, said he was proud to know his work is “going to be here for a long time.”
“All of us guys working together, we talk about that kind of thing — ‘What’s this going to look like for everyone?’” said Winals, dressed in a hard hat and reflective gear. “I’m very proud of it and everyone who works on it should be proud of it.”
Significant areas of the project
NewsCenter 7 reporter Mike Campbell contributed reporting.
By the numbers
$126 million - the cost of the final phase of the I-75 Modernization Project.
12 - the number of bridges replaced in the final phase.
18+ - the number of years some officials have spent working on the project, according to ODOT.
16,000 - the number of trucks that pass through the city of Dayton each day.
The Dayton Daily News has reported on transportation issues for decades, including every stage of the I-75 Modernization Project from conception in the 1990s to completion this week. View Sky 7 drone video of the completed project on MyDaytonDailyNews.com.