Last updated: September 06. 2013 2:11PM - 44 Views

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Associated Press

COLUMBUS — Several big-ticket Ohio transportation projects, including a major bridge in Cleveland, work on Interstate 75 in southwest Ohio and a downtown interchange in Columbus, will start earlier thanks to additional spending announced Wednesday by the state Department of Transportation.

The department said it accelerated the construction timeline for some projects by cutting costs and taking other steps to identify $400 million in funding that can be used next year.

The money saved that will be used next year includes $20 million not spent by the highway department’s district offices this year, $90 million in workforce reductions and improved efficiency, and $90 million in higher-than-projected gas tax receipts and the elimination of federal earmarks.

“We’re innovating and approaching the delivery of services in a new way,” ODOT director Jerry Wray said in a statement.

The department hopes to find additional savings in coming years to further speed up the schedule.

The state Transportation Review Advisory Council approved the revised funding list Wednesday for about three dozen major projects.

State transportation officials previously recommended that planned work on the second Interstate 90 bridge and other road projects be delayed by years because of a lack of funds and over-commitment by previous administrations. The state had been searching for alternative ways to pay for some projects sooner.

The revised calendar moves the previously scheduled 2019 demolition of a bridge over I-90 on Cleveland’s Innerbelt to next year, according to new ODOT figures.

In Hamilton County, work on I-75 will speed up from 2018 to next year, while the second phase of the reconstruction of the I-70/I-71 interchange in Columbus will begin in 2020 instead of 2026.

The new schedule also speeds up work on an I-75 upgrade in downtown Dayton from 2014 to next year and the first phase of an upgrade of I-275 in Clermont County from 2020 to 2014.

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