COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Construction that will permanently close a number of ramps from I-70 into the Downtown Columbus area is set to begin shortly.

Announced Wednesday by Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Dr. Jack Marchbanks, the first phase of the planned two-phase project will permanently close the following ramps:

That third ramp closure won’t happen until the new Fulton Street exit ramp opens.

The construction is part of the state’s larger Downtown Ramp Up series of projects which began in 2010 with the aim being to create “new urban avenues with complete streets, enhanced freeway crossings with safe pedestrian and bicyclist accommodations, and the removal of unsafe ramps,” according to the project’s website. The state estimates the total cost of the Downtown Ramp Up series of projects to be $1.4 billion.

This phase of the Downtown Ramp Up project will:

  • Build a new ramp from I-70 east to Fulton Street
  • Replace the Front Street bridge over I-70
  • Widen the I-70 bridge over Souder Road
  • Replace the I-70 bridge over Short Street
  • Rehab the I-70 bridges over SR-315
  • Reconstruct Livingston Avenue between Front and High streets, converting it to two-way traffic
  • Convert Front Street to two-way traffic between Livingston Avenue and Mound Street
  • Reconstruct Fulton Street between Front Street and High Street.

For drivers who use the I-70 east to SR-315 ramp, ODOT recommends the following alternate routes:

  • I-70 eastbound to I-71 northbound to I-670 westbound to SR 315 northbound
  • Central Ave. to McKinley Ave. to Grandview Ave. to I-670 eastbound to SR 315 northbound
  • Hague Ave. to I-70 eastbound to I-670 east to SR 315 northbound 

During Wednesday’s event, DeWine and Marchbanks said the new ramps would “address safety and congestion.”

This phase of the project is set to cost $280 million, which is the largest single transportation construction project in central Ohio.

The interstate was originally built in the late 1950s when the population of Columbus was half of what it currently is, according to the state. Bridges along the corridor also date back to the ʼ50s and ʼ60s, including the 60-year-old Front Street bridge over I-70 that will be replaced with this project.

“This section of highway is one of the busiest and most vital routes for freight operators and commuters in the region, and central Ohio has long outgrown it,” DeWine said in a statement. “This project modernizes an outdated interchange and tackles the biggest congestion and safety problems on the road to benefit Ohioans for generations to come.”

Construction on this phase of the project is expected to last until 2026.