By Anna Guido
WEST CHESTER TWP. - Three overpasses will be closed for several months each, beginning in March, as part of the widening of an eight-mile stretch of Interstate 75.
Closures of the Allen Road, West Chester Road and Crescentville Road bridges will be spread over about 10 months. Two of the overpasses will be closed about the same time, a move critical to the project completion, said Walter Bernau, a work zone traffic manager for the District 8 office of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).
"The existing overhead bridge columns are in the way of the I-75 pavement widening in the median," Bernau said. "In order to complete I-75 as quickly as possible, two bridges may be closed concurrently."
The Allen Road bridge will close in March, the West Chester Road bridge in May, and the Crescentville Road bridge in late September or early 2004.
ODOT announced in November plans to widen the highway from six lanes to eight between Tylersville Road in West Chester and Kemper Road in Sharonville.
The improvements are expected to alleviate rush-hour bottlenecks at Interstate 275, Union Centre Boulevard, Cincinnati-Dayton Road and Tylersville Road.
Lane closures also are coming in March. A section of the highway under I-275 will be reduced from three to two lanes in both directions. In the rest of the project area, high-speed lanes will be closed, but three lanes will be maintained by shifting traffic onto the shoulders, Bernau said.
Preliminary work on the $31 millionproject began in December. The project is scheduled for completion in summer 2005.
Residents and business owners have expressed concern about the impact of the project.
"Sometimes there is pain with progress," said George Flynn, general manager of North Ridge Realty Group at 8764 Union Centre Blvd. "Everybody wants convenience and access, but sometimes it creates short-term problems which are far outweighed by the long-term fix."
North Ridge Realty has developed 10 office, office-warehouse, retail and restaurant facilities in the Union Centre area during the past five years.
Joe Hinson, president and chief executive officer of the Southeastern Butler County Chamber of Commerce, was concerned about the impact concurrent bridge closings would have on traffic and business.
But Hinson said this week that closing two bridges at once is better than having the project length extended.
"The bridges are just going to have to be closed and we're just going to have to make the best of the situation," Hinson said.
Chamber and township officials plan to periodically schedule town meetings to keep the community updated on the progress of the I-75 project.
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