TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) –The Ohio Department of Transportation says less traffic, more jobs and faster routes will happen once it completes the relocation of State Route 18 in Wood County.
Preliminary work started this week. ODOT says this project is different than anything it's ever done, and promises it will bring positive results to the entire region.
Ever since CSX Intermodal came to North Baltimore, Wood County says it has 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, a representative from Wood County Economic Development.
That is where ODOT's State Route 18 relocation project comes in. The goal is to move the route so it doesn't go directly through the village of North Baltimore. Wood County says that gives the area a lot of 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 says 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 those 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 build to handle that type of capacity," says ODOT Public Information Officer Theresa Pollick.
The plan is to finish the project by the end of the year. Pollick says that's 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."
ODOT says the fast pace is all due to community support.