United States Route 24 (U.S. 24) is a major east-west transportation corridor through the Midwestern United States, linking Michigan and Colorado. The eastern portion of the corridor traverses northern Indiana and northwestern Ohio, and provides the most direct access between Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Toledo, Ohio. U.S. 24 also provides direct connections to Interstate 69/I-469, I-80/I-90 and I-75, enabling the motoring public to reach destinations northward into the Great Lakes region and Canada as well as other large cities on the eastern seaboard. As a result of the direct linkage between the Fort Wayne, Indiana, region and the Port of Toledo, U.S. 24 has been nicknamed “Fort to Port.
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is working to improve U.S. 24 in northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio. The focus of this work is the approximately 40-mile segment of U.S. 24 between New Haven, Indiana, and Defiance, Ohio. Of this segment, 11.2 miles is located in Indiana, between New Haven and the Indiana-Ohio state line.
The Indiana portion of this project officially opened to traffic on November 14, 2012
The Indiana portion of this project was divided into five phases, totaling 11.2 miles of work:
|Phase||Project Limits||Project Length (miles)||Construction Start||Construction End||Open to Traffic|
|1||0.5 mile E of I-469 to 0.5 mile E of Bruick Road||2.5||2010||2012||2012|
|2||0.5 mile E of Bruick Road to 0.65 mile E of Webster Road||2.2||2010||2011||2012|
|3||0.65 mile E of Webster Road to 0.5 mile W of State Road 101||3.6||2009||2010||2012|
|4||0.5 mile W of SR 101 to Ohio state line||2.9||2008||2009||2009|
|4A||New interchange construction||0||2008||2009||2009|
As a segment of the major east-west transportation corridor between Colorado and Michigan, old U.S. 24 between Fort Wayne and Defiance experienced substantial traffic growth over the past several years, at a rate higher than normal for northwest Ohio and eastern Indiana. The major factors contributing to this growth include increased population, developing industry, and a greater reliance on intermodal transportation connections with the regional and national rail systems and the water-based shipping at the Port of Toledo.
The old U.S. 24 is identified as a macro corridor in the Access Ohio plan. Macro corridors are defined by ODOT as corridors of statewide important upon which rests the economic vitality of Ohio. The U.S. 24 corridor’s importance was also nationally recognized when the highway was identified as one of the 21 High Priority Corridors as part of the National Highway System (NHS) in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991.
The 64.5 kilometer (40-mile) segment of old U.S. 24 between New Haven and Defiance is a two-lane rural, winding arterial roadway as it follows the Maumee River. Frequent driveway cuts or access points for local residents, businesses and other local roadway crossings are common. Sporadic development is directly adjacent to the roadway. The roadway has narrow, often discontinuous shoulders and numerous no-passing zones. The frequency of no passing zones severely limits the flow of traffic and the capacity of the roadway.
Approximately 45 percent of the overall traffic on old U.S. 24 is trucks, and along some roadway segments, truck traffic is more than half of the total traffic. The high volume of trucks often results in platoons of trucks, three or more, making passing difficult and dangerous.
The existing U.S. 24 does not meet current design criteria for travel lane widths, provision of shoulders, roadway curvature, sight distance, and travel speed. These characteristics contributed to increasing travel time delays, and a declining level of service along the roadway. The level of services (LOS) provided by U.S. 24 in 2008 under the No Build Scenario contained in the Final Environmental Impact Statement is a LOS E. This indicated the two-lane roadway did not have adequate capacity to meeting anticipated future travel demand. If improvements were not made to U.S. 24, the problems experienced on the highway would only worsen.
The accident data for old U.S. 24 between New Haven and Defiance do not identify any intersections or roadway segments that qualify as high accident locations according to ODOT criteria. However, the severity of the accidents is an issue of concern. In examining specific statistics of accidents over a three year period, 60 percent of the total accidents involved heavy trucks and approximately 30 percent results in injuries or fatalities, including a collision between a car and a public bus that killed three people and injured nine. Many more accidents have been avoided due to a concentrated effort by various policing agencies to enforce posted speed limits, combined with local users exercising extra caution. Additionally, school systems that previously included U.S. 24 as part of the bus routes searched for different alternatives to avoid heavy traffic volumes and numerous near collisions.
In summary, old U.S. 24 is a two-lane road that suffers from congestion and safety-related issues as a result of inadequate capacity to accommodate current traffic demand. The operational deficiencies of U.S. 24 are due to a combination of the following factors:
Purpose & Need
For U.S. 24 to continue to support the growing transportation demands placed upon it, the roadway needed improvements that would address the goals of the purpose and need. ODOT and INDOT, in cooperation with FHWA, improved the operational characteristics of U.S. 24 for both local and through traffic in the Fort to Port area. The purposed of this major transportation project was to:
INDOT began right-of-way acquisition in 2007 and construction in 2008. In order to maintain the project schedule, some design tasks ran concurrently with environmental studies. The approach increased the quality of data used for determining impacts as well as compressed the development schedule.
Below are key highlights of the U.S. 24 Fort to Port project and project schedule: