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As Stay-At-Home Orders Lift, Traffic Returns To Ohio's Roads

Traffic was light on Fort Washington Way, I-71, on April 7, 2020
Traffic was light on Fort Washington Way, I-71, on April 7, 2020

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.

ODOT spokesman Matt Bruning says there are 185 "continuous count stations" across Ohio monitoring, at 15 minute intervals, how many and what kind of vehicles are on the road. He says they typically analyze the data for things like estimating the impact of road construction. But engineers got a glimpse of the pandemic's influence.

"We have seen traffic volumes steadily drop from about mid-March all the way through the first part of April. We bottomed out at about 49% in April. We've started to see it steadily climb back up: last week we were down 35%, compared to the same period last year," Bruning says.

Credit Provided / ODOT

He says ODOT expects to see the upward trend continue, but they don't know if it will reach last year's levels. "We don't yet know how many companies might have seen how teleworking works during this time period and deciding that's something they're going to do going forward. That could lessen the amount of traffic on our roads."

Bruning says he doesn't generally make predictions about whether the roads will be busy for Memorial Day weekend, or during the traditional summer travel season. "If I had to make a guess, yeah, I'm sure traffic volumes are going to be down this year compared with previous couple of years," he says. "My hope is people will be responsible and we'll get back out on the roads."

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Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio: and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.