By Wayne Allen
While construction of the Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway continues, local first responders can breathe a sigh of relief, the Ohio Department Of Transportation (ODOT) have announced plans for two emergency access points to be built into the highway.
Before construction began on the $429 million highway, area first responders expressed concerns, because there were no emergency access points being built into the highway.
Plans called for the four-lane 16 mile highway to have a concrete barrier, dividing the two sides of the highway with no emergency access points for first responders.
In some cases, first responders would have to travel from where they are, to an exit and get back on the highway going the other direction, potentially adding minutes to response times.
“We are going to be installing two emergency crossovers. That will effectively make the longest piece you would have to go three miles, which is in accordance with out general guidelines on how far you should go,” said Tom Barnitz, Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway Project Manager for ODOT.
When asked about the particulars of the access points, Barnitz said, “they will be an engineered break. Because we had to widen out the pavement and we had to make it safe so a vehicle, could turn into the emergency crossover, stop and be able to see in all directions.”
He said as a result of the emergency crossover, those sections of highway will be widened and more earthwork will have to be done to accommodate. Barnitz said ODOT is working with the project developer on how much the access points will cost.
“This is going to cost us more, but this is a good thing that we’ll be able to achieve that,” Barnitz said.
He said use of the emergency crossovers will be restricted to only first responders.
Once constructed, the project will be a 16-mile, limited access, four-lane highway that will bypass about 26 miles of U.S. 52 and U.S. 23 in Portsmouth. Once completed, ODOT estimates it will reduce travel time by 16 minutes compared to the alternative routes in the area.
For project developments visit www.pgg823.com.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT