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    ODOT project dedication opens Port Clinton's $11 million Gateway to the Islands

    By Roger LaPointe, Port Clinton News Herald,


    Port Clinton News Herald

    • The project includes two roundabouts adjacent to the Shores and Islands Welcome Center.

    PORT CLINTON ― More than 50 people celebrated the dedication of the $11 million Gateway to the Islands project on Ohio 53 Monday.

    The Ohio Department of Transportation project that began after Labor Day 2023 includes two roundabouts adjacent to the Shores and Islands Welcome Center.

    State and local officials led the ceremony and ribbon cutting.

    Workers on the intersection safety improvement project constructed a roundabout at the westbound leg of Ohio 2/Ohio 53; built a second roundabout at the Ohio 53 and State Road intersection; widened Ohio 53 (S.E. Catawba Road) from the interchange to Ohio 163; added a two-way center turn lane throughout the corridor; added sidewalk, and upgraded curb ramps.

    The project was built by Miller Brothers Construction, Inc., Archbold.

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    Larry Fletcher, President of Shores and Islands Ohio, summed up the reason for the roundabouts.

    "This has been a long time coming. I started my position here about 19 years ago and before I started there were people talking about the need for a safer and more efficient route heading north," Fletcher said. "What it will mean is that it will be much easier for people to make their way north. Those two roundabouts will make it easier to get off (Ohio 2) and safer."

    ODOT statistics show that on many summer weekends there will be five times as many vehicles using that intersection as in the tourist off-season. While Fridays and Sundays in Ohio typically have the least traffic, it's the opposite for Ottawa County.

    Former state Rep. Steve Arndt, R-Port Clinton, and former Ohio Senate Majority Leader Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, were on hand to explain the history of the project, which was 30 years in the making.

    In the 1990s, the intersection was found to be the second most dangerous in the state. A variety of solutions were proposed, but a lack of funding resulted in each previous proposal falling through.

    “One of the keys to this project was actually designating tourism as an industry in the state. Urban areas had that advantage for many years, but tourism has such a profound impact on Ohio’s economy that we thought it was right. It was Rep. Arndt that was the sponsor of the amendment to change Ohio law and free up additional funds to make this project happen,” Gardner said.

    The remainder of the project is on schedule to complete this summer.

    The roundabout at Ohio 53 and State Road opened this past November. The roundabout at Ohio 2 unofficially opened last weekend.

    Pat McColley, ODOT District 2 deputy director, talked about the timing and design for these roundabouts.

    "Anytime we do work close to (Lake Erie) we try to space closures between Labor Day and Memorial Day, usually it's harder to coordinate, because you can only lay asphalt at a certain temperature. In the summer is when you usually see construction. This is unique in that we are trying to do it off-season," McColley said.

    He also pointed out ways in which these will be different because of the type of use they will get.

    "With these roundabouts, our team worked very closely with the marinas and other businesses, but mostly the marinas, to make sure we had the right curb height and turning radius to accommodate the large trucks, specifically those hauling the large yachts and boats. These have only a one-inch curb, where most roundabouts around the state have between a 2-inch and 4-inch curb. So, it's a little bit lower, to make sure those larger vehicles can get through," McColley said.

    McColley said that everything is already open, but there's some finishing on striping and manhole covers,to complete. There shouldn't be any more road closures in the project area after this past weekend, which was the goal.


    The Key Points at the top of this article were created with the assistance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and reviewed by a journalist before publication. No other parts of the article were generated using AI. Learn more.

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