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The Suburbanite
  • I-77 traffic flow back to normal — for now

  • Ohio Department of Transportation resumes conventional traffic flow on Interstate 77 in southern Stark County.
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  • Conventional driving patterns have returned for Interstate 77 motorists traveling south of Canton.
    The bi-directional traffic pattern, which affected northbound motorists on the interstate, has been removed temporarily by state transportation officials.
    The Ohio Department of Transportation recently reopened both northbound tracks along Interstate 77. One lane had been closed and motorists were directed to Interstate 77's southbound side.
    The affected area is a five-mile stretch of Interstate 77 north of the Bolivar area and south of Folh Street SW. ODOT set up the bi-directional traffic pattern to accommodate a $14 million paving and bridge-repair project.
    "They left one lane on the typical northbound side open," Stark County Engineer Keith Bennett said. "They took the other northbound lane, crossed it over the median. It was going north in the southbound lane."
    And to keep two southbound tracks going on the southbound side, ODOT allowed use of a road-side shoulder.
    "That way they were able to maintain two lanes in either direction," Bennett said.
    The Shelly Co., based in Bourneville, is in the midst of a project to upgrade a portion of Interstate 77 south of Canton and north of the Tuscarawas County line.
    To leave only one northbound track available for the past several months "would have caused some serious backups," said Brent Kovacs, an ODOT public relations officer.
    However, "this bi-directional traffic will resume in spring of 2014," Kovacs said. "There are 10 bridges in this project that will get some sort of repair."
    Between 34,150 and 35,590 motorists travel this section of Interstate 77 each day, according to an ODOT traffic count. ODOT's project on this portion of the interstate is expected to be complete in September.
    Reach Malcolm at 330-580-8305
    or malcolm.hall@cantonrep.com
    On Twitter: mhallREP