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Keeping traffic going, but safe on the busiest travel day of the year

Keeping traffic going, but safe on the busiest travel day of the year

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- Millions of people will be on the road over the Thanksgiving holiday. Where possible, the Ohio Department of Transportation has pulled up the orange barrels in construction zones to ease congestion.

One major route, I-71 from Cleveland to Cincinnati, is three lanes wide on the southbound side, even through construction zones in Morrow County. Northbound traffic is still impacted by construction between Columbus and Cleveland that has it still only two lanes wide and that can lead to some major backups.

"I think the best thing you can do as you're traveling through these permanent construction zones is to really pay attention," said ODOT spokesperson Melissa Ayers.

In addition to I-71, you'll also find work zones on I-270 at US 23 on the south side of Columbus.

Traveling through eastern Ohio, you'll find two bridge replacements in Licking County on I-70, although two lanes are open through the construction zone.

There are a handful of construction projects on I-75. One of the biggest is the major re-construction through downtown Dayton. Two lanes northbound and three lanes southbound are open, but there are some traffic pattern changes through that stretch of highway. There's also construction in the area of U.S. 36 near Piqua and near Cridersville in Auglaize County. Workers are opening up a second lane through that area. I-75 between Fourth St. and SR 81 in Lima will have occasional nighttime lane restrictions during reconstruction of the existing lanes of pavement, replacement of mainline bridges and reconstruction of the interchanges. Traffic is maintained two lanes in each direction the majority of the time.

You'll also see two projects on I-75 in the Cincinnati area, though the highway is three to four lanes wide through those areas.

Up in northern Ohio you'll find I-90, at its interchange with SR 611 (mile marker 151) in the city of Avon, is restricted to two narrowed lanes of traffic in each direction as part of a bridge project. All I-90 traffic is now traveling on the first of two, new bridges to replace the 1959 Innerbelt Bridge in downtown Cleveland. Interstate 90 remains open; however, multiple ramps - including the Ontario Street exit ramp from I-90 east - along the downtown corridor are closed or restricted as crews work to demolish the 1959 bridge and construct a second bridge in its place. I-90 east and westbound traffic between Morely Rd. and Paine Rd. is maintained utilizing the contra-flow traffic pattern. Two lanes of traffic are maintained in each direction on I-90 east and westbound and speeds are reduced.

Ayers says one of the best things you can do is check their year-old website, OHGO.com, before you head out the door. The site features maps of construction zones, real-time traffic speeds, and ODOT traffic camera images so you can see what conditions are like.

"There's going to be a lot of cars out there, a lot of people traveling, so just be patient, take your time, you'll get there as soon as possible," Ayers said.

Watching all of those cars will be Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers. They'll have extra manpower out over the holiday to look for impaired, aggressive, or distracted drivers. They'll also be making sure people are buckled up.

"Last year we had 12 people killed on Ohio roadways over the Thanksgiving holiday," said Sgt. Vincent Shirey. "In 2011 we had 17, 2010 we had 18, and 2009 we had 20, so you can see there is a downward slope there."

You might think that holidays like Memorial Day or New Year's Eve bring the highest number of alcohol-related deaths, but Shirey says that's not the case.

"Thanksgiving, believe it or not, is actually first in alcohol-related deaths," he said. There were 7 last year.

Thanksgiving is second in terms of the number of overall crashes, trailing on New Year's Eve.

(Photo courtesy Getty Images)

 

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