Decade-long I-75 modernization ends early, nearly $1M under budget

Published: Thursday, September 22, 2016 @ 5:09 AM
Updated: Thursday, September 22, 2016 @ 9:04 PM

Drone's view of completed I-75 project

“Malfunction junction” was declared dead Thursday at a celebratory completion of the I-75 Modernization Project, which state transportation officials say ended one year early and nearly $1 million under budget.

Officials hope the completion of the $306 million, four-and-a-half mile road project will improve safety and ease decades of frustration with the heavily-traveled downtown stretch that an estimated 128,000 cars and trucks travel each day.

Rob Griffith, Federal Highway Administration assistant division administrator, said the four-mile stretch of highway replaced in the modernization project formerly saw an average of 325 accidents per year.

“Right now, we’ve just finished this project and we’re seeing roughly 225 crashes per year, so we’ve seen a decrease already of 100 crashes per year,” Griffith said.

The project relied on the use of monetary incentives to encourage the contractors to complete the work ahead of schedule. An ODOT spokeswoman could not immediately confirm whether Kokosing Construction received a $3 million bonus for the completion, but officials indicated the incentives were a major part of getting the construction work done ahead of schedule.

“Waving extra dollars at contractors, I think they sharpen their pencils, they get their A-team on board and they march ahead and get it done,” said Randy Chevalley, ODOT District 7 deputy director. “They’ve got that next project they want to do. They’re in business to make money.”

Leaders from the Ohio Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission and other local agencies and governments were on hand for the ceremony Thursday morning, which included a ribbon cutting.

The project was built in three segments:

  • Phase 1A began in October 2007 and saw the reconstruction of the I-75 and state Route 4 interchange, including the elimination of a sharp curve and left lane ramps. The Main Street exit was upgraded and three continuous lanes were built from Main Street to Stanley Avenue. Kokosing Construction completed the project in fall 2011 at a cost of $122 million.
  • Phase 1B broke ground in March 2010 and built a three-lane stretch from Edwin C. Moses Boulevard to Fifth Street and rebuilt portions of the existing U.S. Route 35 interchange ramps. The Ruhlin Company completed the project in fall 2013 at a cost of $58 million.
  • Phase 2, the final segment of the project, kicked off in spring 2013 to connect Phases 1A and 1B by constructing three continuous lanes between the complete phases. The project included the reconstruction of 12 bridges and eliminated left lane entrances and exits. The project was completed by Kokosing Construction at a cost of $126 million.

Chevalley noted construction will continue in the area around the completed I-75 stretch. That work includes the continuation of construction on the U.S. 35 portions of the interchange with I-75, technically a separate project, and the eventual replacement of the I-75 bridges near Edwin C. Moses Boulevard and Wagoner Ford Road.

But for the project at hand, ODOT officials focused on celebrating the accomplishment alongside several dozen construction workers. Randy Winals, a labor foreman with Kokosing Construction, said he was proud to know his work is “going to be here for a long time.”

“All of us guys working together, we talk about that kind of thing — ‘What’s this going to look like for everyone?’” said Winals, dressed in a hard hat and reflective gear. “I’m very proud of it and everyone who works on it should be proud of it.”

News Center 7’s Mike Campbell contributed reporting.

FIRST REPORT

The decade-long modernization project of Interstate 75 through downtown Dayton will officially come to an end Thursday.

ODOT said the project was an investment of over $300 million, and was constructed an entire year ahead of schedule and below budget.

“The newly constructed interstate creates a smoother, less congested commute for motorists, as well as new ramps in and out of the Dayton area,” ODOT District 7 Public Information Officer Mandi Dillon said in a release issued earlier this week.

ODOT will hold a project completion ceremony Thursday at 10:30 a.m. on Second Street in downtown Dayton.

EARLIER: I-75 construction project in Dayton to be finished this year

For updates and more news click here to download our free apps.

What you need to know about the 2017 solar eclipse

Published: Wednesday, August 02, 2017 @ 3:43 PM
Updated: Saturday, August 19, 2017 @ 8:00 PM

What should I not do during the Great American Eclipse in the Miami Valley?

The Great American Eclipse will be visible across the country on Aug. 21. 

In the Miami Valley, the solar eclipse will begin shortly after 1 p.m. Aug. 21. It will take the moon almost three hours to cross the face of the sun, from one side to the other. 

RELATED: 7 things to know about the rare total solar eclipse 

RELATED: Solar Eclipse 2017: Read this before looking at the sun

Many cities across America will see a total eclipse, but our area will only have a partial eclipse. Almost 90 percent of the sun will be eclipsed by the moon. The last total solar eclipse that passed over the Miami Valley was more than a thousand years ago.

QUIZ: How much do you know about solar eclipses? 

VIDEO: How August’s solar eclipse will look in the Miami   

RELATED: How will your pets react to the solar eclipse?

Upcoming Total Solar Eclipse Stirs Fears of Apocalypse

The last total solar eclipse that was visible in the contiguous United States was on Feb. 26, 1979.  

#SkyWitness7 has a several resources for everything you need to know about the eclipse:

There won’t be a total solar eclipse in the Miami Valley. Here’s what you need to know to safely watch the Great American Eclipse

>> RELATED: How to get your free pair of Storm Center 7 solar eclipse glasses

The Great American Eclipse will be visible across the country in August. Watch this video to learn the when the eclipse will be visible in your community

A partial eclipse will start at 1:02 p.m. and end at 3:51 p.m. in Dayton on Aug. 21. Get more facts about the Great American Eclipse here

Check out the WHIO Space Glossary to learn the difference between an annular, hybrid and lunar eclipse. 

HAVE QUESTIONS? Ask the Storm Center 7 team through their Facebook and Twitter pages. This story will be updated daily with the latest questions from you! 

An even better eclipse coming in 2024 to the Miami Valley

Q: Can I watch it with a mirror? Is the reflection safe? A: That still isn’t a safe way to view the eclipse. Using a mirror reflection is just as dangerous as staring at the sun and will allow too much sunlight into your eye.

Q: What about 3D glasses from the movie that look like the solar eclipse glasses, can I use those? A: 3D glasses from the movies may look like some of the solar eclipse glasses but they too offer no protection. They aren’t made of the same filter. Only ISO compliant solar eclipse glasses have the proper solar filter to directly watch the eclipse. Solar eclipse glasses reduce the amount of sunlight down to a safe level for your eyes since the sun is so bright and also produces ultraviolet radiation that can cause permanent eye damage if you look at it with the wrong equipment. Remember, multiple pairs of sunglasses won’t work either. If you can’t get the proper solar eclipse glasses, watch it online with us on Aug 21st from 1-4 p.m. or make a pinhole projector. 

Q: If we are going to have a solar eclipse does it mean that those on the other side of earth will have a lunar eclipse? What will be happening in Australia during our solar eclipse? Do they experience it a day ahead of us?  A: A lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, earth and moon align. Earth moves in between the sun and the moon, blocking sunlight to the moon’s surface. This will not be the case this time around as the orbit of the moon will pass between the sun and earth creating a solar eclipse instead. Because the moon’s orbit is titled, as it continues its path around the earth it will move out of the direct alignment with the sun, ending the eclipse. At the time of the eclipse in the U.S., it will be night in Australia. They will have a dark sky, but no moon as the moon is on our side of the globe. This also means it’s not possible for them to have a lunar eclipse. In order for that to happen the moon would have to be on the Australia side with Earth traveling between the moon and the sun.

Q: What are chances that we will have cloudy skies on eclipse day?

A: During summer, there’s always is a good chance that clouds could develop during the heat of the day. The solar eclipse will occur between 1:02 p.m. and 3:51 p.m. in Dayton. Based on historical cloudiness data from the NOAA National Center for Environmetal Information 10-year hourly climate normals dataset, there is a 20 percent chance of an overcast day. Anything less should allow for better conditions to see the eclipse at some point.

>> Download the FREE Storm Center 7 app

Q: How will shadows look during the solar eclipse? 

A: Your shadow on a normal day will show your general shape. During a solar eclipse, a partial one like we will see, the light from the sun will be more focused (about a sliver will remain during max eclipse). This allows the sunlight to come from a smaller source and your shadow to become more defined. According to Rick Fienberg, from the American Astronomical Society, you can see such a sharp image of your shadow that the arms on your hair will be visible. Another interesting thing you could see because we won’t be in the path of totality is objects like trees casting crescent shaped shadows. Like a pinhole projector, the hole between leaves on a tree act to project the solar eclipse on the ground creating crescent shaped shadows! Here’s an example from NASA’s picture of the day

Q: What happens more often -- solar or lunar eclipses? 

A: Solar eclipses are fairly numerous, about two to four per year, but the area on the ground covered by totality is only about 50 miles wide. In any given location on Earth, a total eclipse happens only once every hundred years or so. However, for some "lucky" locations they can occur as little as a few years apart. An example is the Aug. 21, 2017 and April 8, 2024, eclipses, which will be viewed at the same spot near Carbondale, Illinois. The eclipse will also be total in the Miami Valley in 2024. Eclipses of the Moon by the Earth's shadow are actually less numerous than solar eclipses; however, each lunar eclipse is visible from over half the Earth. At any given location, you can have up to three lunar eclipses per year, but some years there may be none. In any one calendar year, the maximum number of eclipses is four solar and three lunar.

Q: How do I know if my solar eclipse glasses are safe to use?

A: You will want to make sure you are using solar eclipse glasses or a viewfinder only, says Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini. Sunglasses, 3D movie glasses or anything else will not be safe enough to view the solar eclipse with.

When you have glasses make sure that they have an “ISO” icon on them and that they have this sequence of numbers (ISO 12312-2). You also want to check the manufacturer. Some popular companies that certify their glasses include, Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical or TSE 17.

Making sure you get them directly through the manufacturer, a local library or from one of the WHIO giveaways will help to ensure you indeed have the right type of solar eclipse glasses.

If you can’t get glasses in time you can enjoy the eclipse by watching live videos from 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 21 on WHIO-TV, online at whio.com and on the WHIO Facebook page. Also, learn how to make your own viewfinder here.

Q: Is it true there is another, better eclipse coming to Dayton?

A: Yes! If we miss the eclipse on Aug. 21, we won’t have to wait to long to get another shot. The next eclipse will be even better for Dayton as it will be a total solar eclipse in our area. It will occur on April 8, 2024 and if the skies are clear (that’s a big if), it should be spectacular as it will occur right around lunchtime! So set your alarm or mark your calendars!

Q: Are there different types of solar eclipses? 

A: Yes. A total solar eclipse (like the one Aug. 21) occurs when the sun, moon and Earth are directly in line. The people in the center of the moons shadow along its path from coast to coast will see the moon completely block the sun and it will get darker for a few minutes. A partial solar eclipse occurs when the sun, moon and Earth aren’t perfectly in line. This allows the moon to still obstruct the sun’s surface but only part of it. Finally, an annular solar eclipse still needs a line-up of the sun, moon and earth but this time the moon is farthest from the Earth. This means that the moon looks smaller from our perspective and will cover the sun but appear to leave a ring of brightness around it. You can read more about them here.

Q: Will gravity change that day?  

A: As crazy as it sounds, yes the gravitational force felt here on Earth will be different during the solar eclipse on Aug. 21. According to NASA, the average person will feel about 1.7 ounces lighter because the moon and sun will have a gravitational pull in the same direction, which will be opposite the Earth’s gravitational force.

Q: How long will the solar eclipse last when watching in the Miami Valley?

A: In Dayton, the moon will begin to eclipse the sun around 1:02 p.m. Then, the maximum eclipse or when the moon will cover most of the sun (about 89 percent in Dayton) is at 2:28 p.m. The eclipse will end around 3:51 p.m. This will make the eclipse about two hours and 50 minutes from start to finish. You can get the timing of the eclipse down to the second by finding your city right here.

Q: Where is the best place within 50 miles of Dayton to see the eclipse?

A: The farther southwest you go, the greater the eclipse will be. However, there will not be much variability within 50 miles of Dayton. For example, the sun will be eclipsed by the moon by approximately 89 percent in Dayton. In Cincinnati, it will be 91 percent eclipsed. You would have to travel to southwestern Kentucky or middle Tennessee to see the total eclipse. Keep in mind, experts are warning of extremely heavy traffic on the day of the eclipse thanks to the “eclipse-chasers,” so be prepared! For details on the eclipse and its start, peak and end times in your part of the Miami Valley, go to whio.com and click on #SkyWitness7 

Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini talks about the timing of the eclipse

Q: What time does a solar eclipse occur? 

A: A solar eclipse happens only when a new moon occurs for the month and the orbit of the moon lines up between the Earth and the sun just right to produce a shadow on the Earth. We have a new moon each month but not always a solar eclipse because of the moon’s orbit. Each solar eclipse begins around sunrise at some point in the path and ends around sunset in a different location at the end of the path. Specific timing of what you see depends on your location. In Dayton,  the max eclipse time will be around 2:28 p.m. The next total solar eclipse in the U.S. is April 8, 2024. 

You can find the specific timing of the start, max and end of the eclipse in YOUR city by clicking here.

Q: What makes this a total solar eclipse? 

A: The Great American Solar Eclipse on Aug. 21 will be a total eclipse, which means the sun will be completely covered by the moon. There are usually 2 and up to 5 solar eclipses every year, but they are usually not total. But on Aug. 21, parts of the country will be in the path of totality, meaning that the sun will be completely covered. In the path of totality, it will be safe to look directly at the sun. Outside of the path of totality, which is where we are, it is NOT safe to look directly at the sun.

Q: Will there be a temperature change when the solar eclipse happens?

A: Yes. As the moon moves in front of the sun, there will be a noticeable change in temperature. It will get darker and feel cooler because the sun’s rays will be blocked by the moon.

Q: Can we look directly at the eclipse or do we need special glasses?  

A: Because we will not be in the path of totality in the Miami Valley, it is not safe to look directly at the eclipse, even during the maximum locally. We will get about an 89 percent eclipse, meaning the moon will cover 89 percent of the sun. This means that roughly 11 percent of the sun will still shine during the maximum. The best way you can see the eclipse is with special glasses or by creating your own viewfinder. 

Q: Do I need a special filter for my camera to take pictures or video fof the eclipse?

A: While there are different makes and models of cameras, the short answer is yes. Most cameras are not made to shoot the sun directly. The best option is to get a filter that will fit your camera to safely shoot the eclipse. Without a filter, you run the risk of damaging your device. As for what kind of filter you need, the best thing to do is contact the manufacturer and see what filter they recommend.

Q: What is the umbra and penumbra? 

A: The umbra and penumbra are different parts of the shadow created by the eclipse. In the case of the Great American Solar Eclipse, the umbra is the shadow that is darkest and is what creates the path of totality. The penumbra is what everyone outside of the path of totality in the continental United States will see during the eclipse.

Q: If we have a solar eclipse, does it mean that those on the other side of Earth have a lunar eclipse? What will be happening in Australia during our solar eclipse?

A: A lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth and moon align. Earth moves in between the sun and moon, blocking sunlight to the moon. This will not be the case this time as the orbit of the moon will pass between the sun and Earth, creating a solar eclipse intead. Because the moon’s orbit is tilted, as it continues its path around Earth it will move out of the direct alignment with the sun, ending the eclipse. During the eclipse in the U.S., it will be night in Australia. They will have a dark sky, but no moon as the moon is on our side of the globe. This also mean’s it’s not possible for them to have a lunar eclipse.

Q. What should I not do during the Great American Eclipse?

A. Here’s a list of DO NOTs dor the Great American Eclipse:

  • Don’t look directly at the sun without the proper eye protection, even during the maximum.
  • Don’t photograph the eclipse without the proper filter for your camera or smartphone. 
  • Don’t forget the times. It starts at 1:02 p.m., maxes at 2:28 p.m. and ends at 3:51 p.m. in Dayton. 
  • Don’t spend too much time photographing the event. Take time to enjoy and take in this rare event; a lot of photos will be available on social media. 
  • Don’t look at the eclipse while driving. This poses a danger to not only you, but to others around you. 
  • Don’t forget to charge your device prior to the event. 
  • Don’t forget that traffic jams may occur the afternoon, even in places that are not in the path of totality. 
  • Don’t be sad or upset that we’re not in the path of totality. We will be in April 2024. 
  • Don’t worry about NOT seeing the eclipse if there are clouds. We have you covered with our facebook live/live stream on WHIO.com.

One taken to hospital, fire marshal requested at scene of Trotwood fire

Published: Sunday, August 20, 2017 @ 7:51 AM
Updated: Sunday, August 20, 2017 @ 8:16 AM

UPDATE @ 8:15 a.m.

One person has been taken to Miami Valley Hospital with unknown injuries from the scene of a structure fire in Trotwood. 

Initial reports indicate two people were trapped on the second floor of the building before fire crews arrived just before 7:30 a.m. 

Dispatchers said only one person was taken out of the building and to the hospital. 

Scanner traffic reveals a fire marshal and investigator have been called to the scene and a third medic unit has been requested. 

Initial reports indicate flames at the building in the 100 block of East Main Street are now out as crews continue to put out hot spots and ventilate the building.

INITIAL REPORT

Trotwood fire crews are responding to a reported structure fire Sunday morning.

Initial reports indicate firefighters encountered heavy smoke at a two-story structure in the 100 block of East Main Street. Firefighters managed to rescue an unknown number of people who were reportedly trapped on the second floor of the building, according to scanner traffic.

MORE: Trotwood business damaged by fire

Additional medics have been requested to assist crews at the scene, according to dispatchers.

Our newsroom is working to confirm details in this developing story.

GOT A TIP? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

Civil rights activist, comedian Dick Gregory dies weeks after local performance

Published: Saturday, August 19, 2017 @ 11:06 PM

Dick Gregory, dead at 84, speaking recently

Civil rights activist and comedian Dick Gregory died Saturday, his family confirmed in a social media post.

He passed away at age 84 in Washington, DC., nearly three weeks after his one-night appearance earlier this month in the Miami Valley.

The best-selling author and 1968 write-in presidential candidate performed Aug. 2 at the Dayton Funny Bone at The Greene Towne Center.

RELATED: Comedy legend is in Dayton for one night only

Although he began as a comedian, he was active in social justice. He was allied with Martin Luther King Jr. and Andrew Young, and participated in sit-ins and marches.

Gregory was hospitalized with a serious, but stable condition, his son, Christian, said Thursday. 

He is survived by his wife, Lillian, and their 10 children.

Eclipse glasses all gone or too pricey online? Here are some options

Published: Thursday, August 17, 2017 @ 6:31 PM

Eclipse glasses all gone or too pricey online? Here are some options

Eclipse viewing glasses are in short supply but some are hoping to cash in on the high demand.

Online sellers are charging a premium and hope to spark bidding wars on sites like Ebay.

Listings start at around $20 but one listing we found is asking $100,000 for four pair of the paper glasses.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said David Race of Butler Township, “they are hustlers, they are just trying to make a buck.”

Race is taking advantage of another option. He bought three pair of welding goggles to view the eclipse from Weiler Welding in Dayton.

“Here in the last couple of days this has really exploded for us,” said Weiler general manager Dave Radominski.

RELATED: Solar Eclipse 2017: what you need to know.

Weiler has sold out of the darkest number 14 welding goggles, but is expecting to get the number 12 model in soon.

“Twelve might be a little bright for some folks. So if you’ve got any type of an eye issue- if you’ve got Lasik surgery or if you’ve got cataracts- you might want to stay away from the 12’s, but I htink for most people the 12’s wil be just fine,” said Radominski.

Experts recommend you not look directly at the sun or eclipse without approved glasses or goggles because retinal damage or blindness may occur.

If you want to save money- you can make a do-it-yourself pinhole viewer.

Here’s a step by step video from Stormcenter 7 meteorologists McCall Vrydags and Kirstie Zontini: