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OH DOT Construction Presses Forward

Thursday, March 26, 2020

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Although various projects across the United States have seemingly halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ohio Department of Transportation reports that it will continue to stay on schedule with ongoing infrastructure projects.

However, the state has still taken health and safety measures by closing bars, restaurants and other "non-essential businesses" to help prolong the spread of the disease.

“At this point we are still planning to move forward with our construction projects as planned, and we are monitoring the situation closely,’’ Erica Hawkins, ODOT’s Deputy Director of Communications said.

About the Continued Construction

According to reports, the state has chosen to keep production on schedule as the state previously announced in November the outline of 10 projects the Department’s Transportation Review Advisory Council chose to focus on in 2020.

SteveDF / Getty Images

Although various projects across the United States have seemingly halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) reports that it will continue to stay on schedule with ongoing infrastructure projects.

The projects were chosen from a bank of 27 applications totaling some $927 million in road improvements after a series of hearings. The projects were then narrowed down and opened to a public comment period so that state residents could decide.

In total, the projects cost nearly $400 million and include a $38 million plan to widen I-75, a $65 million project aimed at widening and interchange improvements along I-77, a $151 million Section 3 portion of the $306 million Opportunity Corridor in Cleveland and the $227 million construction of a new I-480 Bridge, among others.

In regard to maintenance projects, Hawkins adds that workers have been advised to work in smaller groups, observe social distancing and continue to wash their hands when completing pothole, guardrail and other minor repairs.

Chris Runyan, President of the Ohio Contractors Association adds that highway and civil engineering projects should already be conducting these best practices, given that workers are operating heavy equipment on their own or in small groups regardless. The association is reported to represent 200 contracting firms and 300 supply chain companies, while roughly 120,000 workers make up highway construction employees in the state.

“As Ohio’s economy continues to grow, we must be able to address the demands put on our roads and bridges,” ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks said in a statement. “These funds allow us to eliminate pinch points, reduce congestion, and make our roads and bridges safer for moving people and goods across Ohio.”

Other Industry Responses to COVID-19

Earlier this week, however, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission took opposite measures and ordered all contractors to cease work on current projects for a minimum of two weeks.

The pause in construction follows state Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to extend the shutdown of all non-essential businesses to all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. Currently, the decision is expected to be effective until the end of March, but is under constant review for potential changes.

The week prior, Boston announced a 14-day construction activities ban amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision—made by Mayor Martin Walsh—was put into effect after the city reported that 33 people had been infected with the virus.

However, the city plans to evaluate projects on a case-by-case basis for exceptions, such as support for public health and safety.

CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, spoke out against outright shutdowns of construction, issuing a statement saying that shutting down construction projects is an unnecessary step.

“Halting construction activity will do more harm than good for construction workers, community residents and the economy,” he said. “Construction firms are already acting to ensure the safety and health of their employees in the face of the coronavirus outbreak. These new measures, which include increased hygiene and halting group gatherings of staff, are in addition to the fact construction workers already wear protective equipment, including gloves that will help protect them and their co-workers."

The National Roofing Contractors Association also wrote a letter, this time to President Donald Trump, to express concerns over what are defined as “essential businesses” and “essential workers” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

View all of PaintSquare Daily News' coverage on COVID-19, here.


Tagged categories: COVID-19; Department of Transportation (DOT); Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Roads/Highways; Transportation; Upcoming projects

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