by Jeff SaundersReporterNorth Summit County -- As plans to turn Route 8 into a limited access highway between Interstate 271 and Route 303 near completion, transportation officials say the new highway may not be able to handle traffic from a 20,000-seat soccer stadium planned for the area.Maureen Bachman, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Transportation's District 4 office in Akron, said ODOT's plans for the Route 8 corridor do not take into account the kind of traffic that would come if the Wolstein Sports and Entertainment Group builds the stadium and adjacent retail center."That would certainly change the dynamics," she said. "All we can do is find out what the [stadium] plans are and look at our plans and see if they need to be revised."She said the department would conduct a traffic study and consider upgrades to Route 8 if plans for the stadium become more concrete.Paul Garofolo, president of the Wolstein Sports and Entertainment Group, said late last year the project is in jeopardy unless a proposed county cigarette tax or other form of public funding is approved. He told the News Leader earlier this month that his firm is moving ahead with its plans by meeting with state and local officials.Meanwhile, Bachman said, ODOT went out for bids on the Route 8 project in November. Beaver Excavating Co. of Canton was awarded the construction contract for Phase 1 with a bid of $91 million, $12 million below what ODOT estimated.Phase 1 includes a redesign of the interstate exchange system, improvements to the Highland Road intersection, and closing off Route 8 access to Twinsburg Road. Phase 1 work has commenced under a separate contract for the installation of new utility poles along Route 8's expanded right-of-way.Bachman said that ODOT is still working out a construction schedule for Phase 1, but it is expected to be a three-year project.Beaver Excavating is expected in February to construct a path along Route 8's east side, just south of where it crosses Brandywine Creek, to allow traffic to go around construction areas.Also in February, motorists should start seeing orange fencing showing the boundaries of wetlands. Brush outside the wetland areas will then be cleared, said Bachman.Phase 2, which has been estimated to cost $67.8 million, is expected to begin in spring 2009, with completion in fall 2011. It includes a new interchange system at the Ohio Turnpike.Editor's note: Saunders is a reporter for the News Leader.E-mail: jsaunders@recordpub.comPhone: 440-232-4055 ext. 4105