DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Vehicle crashes on a portion of I-75 through Montgomery County are continuing to happen in work zones.
Each day, up to 134,000 vehicles travel on I-75 between State Route 741 in Miamisburg and I-70, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). Over the past six months, local drivers have been navigating construction signs and orange barrels near the northern stretch of I-75 in Montgomery County.
The area has become a danger zone for crashes.
Already in 2023, the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSP) reported 300 work zone-related crashes in Montgomery County alone. In 2022, OSP reported just 174 crashes in work zones in the county.
It seems to have become a broken record. Crashes on I-75 happen frequently during the morning rush hour and on the evening commute home. Nearly every week crashes create a headache for drivers on I-75 from State Route 4 to Wagner Ford Road in Harrison Township.
Since construction started in May, data from OSP shows nearly 60 work zone-related crashes in the danger zone. When compared to the same six-month stretch in 2022, the total drops significantly to only 2 crashes in the same area.
Drivers are continuing to navigate the shifting and narrowed lanes. Before, lanes were once 12 feet wide. Now, they have been trimmed to just 11.
ODOT has posted reduced speeds along the interstate, but crashes are a reoccurring issue.
“The biggest thing that we’re seeing is speed and drivers following too close to one another,” says Loryn Bryson, public information officer, ODOT District 7.
The project is a massive undertaking for ODOT. I-75 was built in the 1950s. For the first time since then, construction crews are going back to the foundation.
The state’s Department of Transportation says they’ve gone through a meticulous planning process trying to avoid the traffic trouble. Leaders with ODOT have been having meaningful conversations with surrounding states that have conducted similar work.
“Recently, we’ve had discussions with Indiana and Kentucky both, especially in our area where District 7 doesn’t touch Kentucky, but we are pretty close and we do have a couple of counties that touch Indiana,” Bryson said.
The organization is also in constant contact with OSP and other law enforcement agencies, with the common goal of keeping construction sites as safe as possible.
Since construction on I-75 started north of downtown and in Moraine, OSP has continued to monitor speed. More than 560 citations have been issued by troopers.
“The biggest thing that we need, especially with folks going through that zone, we need them to slow down,” said Bryson. “We need them to pay attention, and we can’t stress that enough.”
Signage in the area has recently been updated. Over the next month, ODOT will begin to re-stripe the lines to make the lanes more visible.
If you don’t have to stop in Dayton, you are encouraged to use the I-675 to I-70 bypass.
“You might have to slow down, but you’re going to get through there safer and faster, because if you’re even going slow right you’re going that 55 mile an hour, that’s still a whole lot faster than being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic,” says Bryson.
Drivers will experience the current traffic pattern on I-75 until at least April or May of 2024, which is when the next phase of construction is anticipated to begin.