In the summer of 2017, many a northbound driver on Ohio Route 7 made a U-turn at the East Liverpool Exit after finding (or forgetting) that the left-hand turn onto University Ave. was closed. So this year, when the intersection once again closes to left-hand turns, local drivers should already have their alternative routes well in place.
Issues with access to the Veterans Bridge (US 22) Route 7 were identified over a decade ago in the Ohio River Bridge Study. The study, funded by WV DOT and ODOT, looked at roads, access and bridges in the Northern Panhandle and made a number of recommendations for improving traffic and freight flow.
Construction on the new intersection along US 22 at Route 7 and University Boulevard began in 2016. Ramps that connect Route 7 south of the University Boulevard intersection were completed, along with a new intersection along University Boulevard. The ramps leading onto the Veterans Memorial Bridge from University Boulevard and from U.S. 22 to Seventh Street and University Boulevard were also reconfigured.
What sent unsuspecting (or forgetful!) motorists up to East Liverpool, however, was the reconstruction of the southbound lanes of Route 7 between University Ave. and Franklin Street. The decade-long habit of turning left at University proved difficult for some to break.
The transition should be easier, though, when the “NO TURN” signs go up again this year, as traffic becomes two-lanes on Route 7 once again on Route 7 to allow for the reconstruction of the northbound lanes. Eventually, with the new US 22 ramp and signal on Route 7 permanently moving further south, the traffic jam and signal race at the base of the Veterans Bridge will be over for good.
Detours will begin March 14, when State Route 7 between University Boulevard and Franklin Avenue will switch to a crossover pattern, going down to one lane in each direction. In addition, the “no turn” sign will reappear for northbound Route 7 drivers hoping to access the bridge at University.
One piece of information we can offer right now is a reminder about ODOT’s detour route (pictured below). Drivers headed north on Route 7 are advised to continue north to the John Scott Highway exit and then loop back to merge onto either University Boulevard (right) or Veteran’s Bridge/US 22 (left).
If you are coming from any point south of Steubenville, however, and plan to take US 22 to Weirton, Burgettstown or beyond, you can avoid the Veterans Bridge construction area altogether. Simply make a left at South Street, turn right onto 3rd Street (the first intersection) and then make a right to cross the Market Street Bridge to US 22.
When the new intersection and new US 22 northbound on-ramp are completed, the traffic flow around the bridge will be changed forever. If you click on the gif below, you can watch how traffic will flow. Also, note that traffic will now make a right hand turn onto Labelle Ave. along the river at the new intersection.