ODOT relocating state Route 18 in North Baltimore

The goal of ODOT's state Route 18 relocation project is to move the route so it does not go directly through the village of North Baltimore.
The goal of ODOT's state Route 18 relocation project is to move the route so it does not go directly through the village of North Baltimore.

NORTH BALTIMORE, OH (Toledo News Now) - Ohio Department of Transportation officials said less traffic, more jobs, and faster routes will happen once construction is finished on a big project in Wood County.

That big project is all about relocating state Route 18.

Preliminary work started this week. ODOT officials said this project is different than anything it has ever done and promise it will bring positive results to the entire region.

Ever since CSX Intermodal came to North Baltimore, Wood County officials said they have been trying to attract large manufacturers to the area.

"Every one of them, including their consultants, have said, 'This is a great location, but nobody's going to come here until you sort out state Route 18. Because we are not going to be running truck traffic through a village, past a school, with a 90 degree turn. So until you can get rid of that, we're not coming,'" said Tom Blaha, Wood County Economic Development executive director.

That is where ODOT's state Route 18 relocation project comes in. The goal is to move the route so it does not go directly through the village of North Baltimore.

According to Wood County officials, that gives the area much more potential.

"Hundreds, if not thousands of jobs here that really was going to be an untapped or an unlocked potential until it was possible to get more directly from the property that we're marketing on state Route 18 onto Interstate 75," said Blaha.

Wood County officials said the project is also about safety. As more manufacturing companies do business in the area, ODOT estimates there will be at least 70 more trucks on the roads.

"Once you have that increase of truck traffic through a tiny little village making a left-hand turn to get to their destination, moving at a slower rate of speed, you could have trucks piling up within the village rather quickly. That wasn't built to handle that type of capacity," explained Theresa Pollick, ODOT public information officer.

The plan is to finish the project by the end of the year, which Pollick said is a much faster pace than usual.

"To have it done in this quick of a time frame is unprecedented for the department of transportation. It's got the potential to mean great things for the region," said Pollick.

ODOT officials said that is all because of community support.

Copyright 2012 Toledo News Now. All rights reserved.