May 1, 2023 - News

State plans to add more lanes on I-71 through Columbus

A stretch of highway with road numbers I-71 and I-75 painted on the ground.

I-71 crosses Ohio diagonally and runs through downtown Columbus and Cincinnati. Photo: Andrew Cenci/Bloomberg via Getty Images

More than 100,000 vehicles travel on I-71 through Columbus each day, leading to congestion at major points, but the state believes it has a solution.

State of play: The plan is to add a "SmartLane" in each direction of a 7.5-mile stretch north of downtown between Fifth Avenue and SR 161.

  • SmartLanes are built on the highway's shoulder and are only open during rush hour traffic ā€” I-670 has one headed eastbound toward the airport.
  • The projected cost is $48.5 million, with construction to start two years from now.

Of note: Two public meetings (in person and virtual) on the project are scheduled for May 25.

The big picture: This is one of numerous ongoing state projects meant to reduce congestion in the city center.

  • The massive, $1.4 billion reconstruction of I-70/71 downtown is still going after more than a decade, while other efforts to widen the highways on the outskirts of Franklin County are in the works.
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