Updated Fri, May 9, 2014 9:06 am
Motorists coming into Athens on West Union Street might have noticed something different — a pile of rubble where the state highway garage stood for more than 50 years.
The garage was torn down recently to make way for a new garage, which is expected to get under construction by late spring or early summer, according to David Rose, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Rose said the project is slated for completion in October.
Noting that the old facility was built in 1961, Rose said ODOT had outgrown it. For example, he said it was not possible to get all the snow plows into it.
“This will allow all of our equipment to be inside, out of the elements, with easy access to it,” Rose said of the new, larger facility.
The new garage will include offices, storage space, fleet maintenance space and other features.
“Maintaining our fleet is difficult when you don’t have the resources and space,” Rose said.
Thomas & Marker Construction of Bellefontaine was awarded a contract of more than $7.3 million for the demolition work and the design and construction of the new facility, according to Rose.
Not all of the buildings at the West Union Street site have been demolished, and Rose said that use of those buildings — along with some office trailers that were brought in — will allow operations to continue while the new facility is built.
The salt storage building at the highway garage also was demolished, and Rose said a new one will be constructed at the site.
In 2008, ODOT announced plans to construct a new garage on Route 33, south of Athens. A few months later it was announced that the idea had been shelved due to finances.