highways

Updated 4:40 p.m.

In Atlanta today, President Trump announced a "top to bottom overhaul" of the regulations that govern one of the nation's most significant environmental laws. The aim is to speed up approval for major projects like pipelines and highways, but critics say it could sideline the concerns of poor and minority communities impacted by those projects, and discount their impact on climate change.

A sign telling drivers to stay home, on SR-315 in Columbus.
Ryan Hitchcock / WOSU

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission is preparing for traffic to increase once again now that Ohio's stay-at-home order is lifting.

Highways and roads in Ohio are getting a little more crowded. Traffic levels have increased as the state's stay-at-home orders have been lifted.

America is starting its engines again.

Freeways and city streets have been remarkably empty for weeks. The coronavirus pandemic caused an unprecedented drop in U.S. traffic — total miles driven dropped by more than 40% in the last two weeks of March, according to data collected by Arity.

In some states, mileage eventually dropped more than 60% below what would be expected without a pandemic.

But for several weeks now, the same data shows that miles driven are starting to climb again. Driving remains well below normal levels, but is rising consistently.

highway in Columbus
Gabe Rosenberg / WOSU

Speeding on Ohio's roadways is up during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research from The Ohio State University. While many drivers stay home, researchers found on a section of I-270 on Columbus' west side speeding has averaged 7-28 miles per hour above the speed limit.

Map depicting American Indian trails in Ohio from the book "Archeological Atlas of Ohio," by William C. Mills
Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society / Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

Before Europeans settled here, Ohio was home to many different indigeonous cultures. From the Adena and Hopewell people, who constructed massive earthworks such as the Serpent Mound, to the Lenape or Delaware people, who were forced from their lands on the East Coast by expanding colonies.

Just outside Durango, Colo., archeologist Rand Greubel stands on a mesa surrounded by juniper trees. He points to a circular hole in the ground, about 30 feet across and more than 8 feet deep. There's a fire pit in the center of an earthen floor, ventilation shafts tunneled into the side walls and bits of burned thatching that suggest how the structure once continued to rise above the ground. It's a large pit house from what's known as the Pueblo I period.

"We knew right away that it was highly significant just because of the sheer size of it," Greubel says.

The new Smartlane on eastbound Interstate 670 east of downtown Columbus opened on Wednesday, October 23.
Ohio Department of Transportation

Ohio's first-ever 'smart lane' has opened. The smart lane is meant to reduce traffic congestion heading out of downtown on eastbound Interstate 670.

Cecily King, right, and her daughter Odessa hang a sign that says "If You're Going Through Hell Keep Going" over a Columbus highway.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

You are enough. You are valuable. You are worthy.

Mantras like these have been appearing on highway overpasses and bridges across Columbus over the last few months.

A new report finds that compared to the rest of the country, Ohio’s highways are getting better.

The study comes from the Reason Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank focused on market oriented solutions. It measured traffic fatalities, congestion and construction costs. 

Sleepy truck drivers cause hundreds of fatal crashes each year. Drivers work in an industry that rewards miles driven, not time on the clock, so many truckers push the envelope just to make a living.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration keeps drivers in check with so-called Hours of Service Regulations. The regs cap driving time at 11 hours a day. Truckers have to stop and rest for at least a half hour during that time, and no matter how much downtime they may have in between, they have to quit for the day 14 hours after they start.

ODOT

The Ohio Department of Transportation is testing out new technology aimed at stopping wrong-way crashes on the highway. Signs and detectors are being installed along an 18-mile stretch of I-71 in the Cincinnati area.

Semi-trailers zoom by on I-71 near MAPFRE Stadium as Joel Hunt points to a patch of milkweed, adored by monarch butterflies. It's flanked by Oxeye Sunflowers and Ohio Spiderworts, which share the same purpose: bringing in pollinators.

If you drive Ohio highways you may have noticed more flowers and taller grass on the side of the road.

The Ohio Department of Transportation has begun planting wildflowers along highways across the state with the goal of creating habitats for pollinators.

Each site requires $400 to get started, but ODOT press secretary Matt Bruning said the project will save Ohio taxpayers millions.

Gov. Mike DeWine announces the Columbus Crossroads project will move forward, at a press conference April 15, 2019.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

On the roof a parking garage at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Gov. Mike DeWine assured a crowd that the Columbus Crossroads reconstruction project would move forward.

Pages