U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx Announces $1 Million in ‘Quick Release’ Emergency Relief Funds to Repair I-70 in Columbus, Ohio
WASHINGTON, July 8, 2015—U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced the immediate availability of $1 million in emergency relief funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to help the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) make repairs to the I-70/I-270 overpass in Columbus, which was damaged by a truck fire.
“The Department will do everything possible to help ODOT get this bridge back up and running again as soon as possible,” said Secretary Foxx. “We know that the I-70/I-270 interchange is heavily used in the region and that the traveling public is anxious to have it reopened.”
On July 1, a tanker truck carrying 8,000 gallons of ethanol overturned, caught fire and forced closures on two major highways in the outskirts of Ohio’s capital city. The tanker overturned near a ramp between I-270 and I-70 on the west side of Columbus, burning under a bridge carrying traffic downtown. The fire’s extreme heat cracked the concrete, melted metal reinforcement bars and compromised structural steel, requiring the replacement of a roughly 60-foot span. The severe damage also closed three ramps connecting I-70 and I-270.
“Thousands of commuters and businesses in central Ohio rely on this vital link every day to get to jobs and transport their goods and products,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau. “These initial funds are a down payment on additional resources to help restore this key connector.”
The state is using detours to get traffic moving again in the area. It is a very busy interchange and the detours affect thousands of daily drivers. I-70 eastbound traffic has been shifted to the westbound side and speed limits on both I-70 and I-270 have been reduced to 45 mph.
FHWA’s emergency relief funds will be used to replace the deck of the bridge on I-70 and reconstruct the pavement underneath. Construction is being expedited, and all of the repairs are expected to be completed within 30 days.
The FHWA emergency relief funds will reimburse ODOT for emergency work done in the immediate aftermath of the tanker fire, including the creation of detours. FHWA will provide additional funds in the future as permanent repairs are identified and cost estimates are completed. FHWA’s emergency relief program provides funds for the repair or reconstruction of federal-aid roads and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events.