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The Great Lakes Construction Co. Improves Safety in Northeastern Ohio with US 62 Reconstruction

by: Larry Bernstein
Ohio DOT is reconstructing a 1-mile stretch of U.S. 62 in Canton that is responsible for 100 crashes over a two-year period.
Ohio DOT is reconstructing a 1-mile stretch of U.S. 62 in Canton that is responsible for 100 crashes over a two-year period.
Canton, Ohio, in the northeastern part of the state, is famous for being the home of the National Football League Hall of Fame. However, the city of 70,000 has much more than the hallowed hall. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is in the middle of the U.S. 62 Relocation project to improve safety and reduce congestion in northern Canton.
An Area in Need of Improvement
U.S. 62 is an east-west highway that stretches from El Paso, Texas, to Niagara Falls, New York. Canton is one of the many towns the over 2,200-mile-long road runs through. As U.S. 62 goes through Canton, it’s a four-lane route with an average daily traffic count of 40,000 vehicles. The urbanized area includes a 1-mile stretch that has 43 residential access points and 33 commercial driveways.

ODOT conducted a traffic study of the area from 2012-2013 and 2015-2016. There were 100 crashes along the 1-mile stretch, including 30 percent that resulted in an injury.

“We identified this as an area in need of improvement,” says Justin Chesnic, a Public Information Director with ODOT’s fourth district. “We reviewed various alternatives and found one that will improve safety, keep traffic flowing, and reduce congestion while maintaining access to the properties and businesses in the area.”

A goal of the project is to minimize the exiting and entering on U.S. 62 and allow for more free-flowing traffic.

Before the project, there were two traffic signals along the 1-mile project area. The first traffic signal for those vehicles traveling north was just past a curve. So, vehicles had to slow down due to the reduced speed limit and different traffic patterns, and didn’t have a clear picture of what they were headed towards.

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“This led to traffic back up and many rear end accidents,” Chesnic says. As part of the scope, the team is reducing the number of traffic signals from two to one, which is expected to improve traffic flow. They are also lessening the degree of the curve to increase the site line.

A new half-mile frontage road is being installed south of U.S. 62. The frontage road provides easy access to the area businesses and residences.

Other work includes installation of storm sewers and noise walls and utility relocation.

Digging In
Utility relocation is a common challenge that teams face on infrastructure projects. Before starting construction, the team knew there was a waterline beneath the road that dated back to the 1800s.

The information related to the water line, including its depth, was something the team did not learn until construction commenced. The 1,000-foot-long line was closer to the surface than the team anticipated.

Dealing with the issue was complicated by the materials shortage that was more commonplace in early 2022 when the need arose. “The issues related to the waterline made a significant impact on how we constructed the project,” says ODOT Project Manager Chris Arnold.

“We had some on site meetings and decided to change sequencing to keep the project moving forward while preserving the schedule,” says Erin Dreger, a Project Superintendent with The Great Lakes Construction Co., who served as the general contractor on the project. “We made additional significant cuts where water line was located and had to be very careful in the area.”

A Good Team Gets the Job Done
ODOT and Great Lakes have teamed up on multiple jobs in District Four over the years. “We have a good relationship with them, and they work well with us,” Chesnic says.

“We’re always existed to work with ODOT,” Dreger adds. “We were particularly interested in this job since the majority of job is self-performed.” She adds that utility work is a Great Lakes specialty, and the only task they subbed out was asphalt paving.

The team began construction during the first days of spring 2022. Construction is scheduled to be complete by the fall of 2024. However, they are aiming to complete the project 11 months early.

Arnold cautions, “We still have a ways to go and some weather sensitive items remain to be done, but I’m hopeful we can get it done early.”

How has the team put themselves in a position to shave 11 months off the schedule? “We worked through the winter of 2023, so we gained four to five months,” Dreger says. During the cold Ohio winter, the team performed non-weather-sensitive activities. This enabled them to get most of the traffic on mainline U.S. 62.

Dreger adds that Great Lakes knew what spot they needed to be in to do the winter work and advance the schedule and that it was their goal from the beginning.

“ODOT deserves much of the credit for enabling this project to get ahead of schedule,” Dreger says. “They gave us timely answers, were quick moving, and have been good partners.”

The construction budget for the project is $13.7 million. The project is being funded via the traditional 80/20 federal-state split. The state raised its share via a gas tax.

Arnold anticipates the project being slightly over budget due to the issues with the water line. “We’ve been able to stay around the budget due to responsibly mitigating issues as they arise, and effective and efficient communication that has allowed us to resolve issues in a proactive manner.”

With the completion of the project on the horizon, drivers and neighbors in the area are pleased. Whether travelers are headed to the Hall of Fame or traveling in and around Canton, they will make it through a busy stretch more easily and safely.

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