Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Port proposes repainting its cranes in deal with ODOT

Minority contracting goals might be at issue


Big Lucas shows signs of needing a new coat of paint to cover the large rust patches on the crane’s massive body.


Two industrial cranes that have carried the nicknames “Big Lucas” and “Little Lucas” for decades are in line for repainting if the project does not run afoul of the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority’s minority contracting goals.

Saying that rusty cranes send the wrong message for a port trying to compete internationally, the port authority board of directors agreed Thursday to have the two heavy lifters on the city’s waterfront repainted under an Ohio Department of Transportation painting contract that would save the port authority money.

“They’re just part of our history and they’ve been reliable and it’s time for a facelift,” said Joe Cappel, the board’s director of cargo development.

The board authorized port President Paul Toth to look into consolidating the crane painting with ODOT’s project to repaint the Craig Memorial Bridge this summer. He said ODOT estimated the project cost at about $300,000.

“These two pieces of equipment are very antiquated in their look,” board member James Tuschman said.

Board Chairman Bill Carroll said the board will do the project if ODOT has minority subcontracting goals that are comparable to the port board’s goal of awarding at least 14 percent of each project to minority contractors and subcontractors.

According to Steve Faulkner, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation, ODOT’s minority contracting goals vary, but the basic statewide goal is 9.1 percent.

“If it is a major change from our bidding contracts then we’re going to have to reconsider,” Mr. Carroll said.

Mr. Toth said the two cranes were last repainted in 1985-86, and it was more of a surface treatment than the down-to-the-metal repainting now being proposed. He said the next paint job should last at least 20 to 25 years.

Mr. Cappel said the cranes will be painted safety yellow for the bottom six feet, and the port’s brand colors of blue and gray elsewhere, including the cab and the boom.

Big Lucas was named by 9-year-old John Larimer of what was then Adams Township in a 1962 contest.

“I am naming the crane Big Lucas because it is the largest crane in Lucas County,” the boy wrote to promote his entry.

Little Lucas was added to the docks six years later.

Port board member Opie Rollison questioned whether Midwest Terminals of Toledo International, the port’s stevedore, should be responsible for painting the cranes as part of its maintenance duties.

Mr. Toth said the firm has maintained them mechanically, but has never been expected to paint them, though it could be directed to do paint touch-ups as needed in the future.

“They do need to be painted,” said Terry Leach, Midwest Terminals’ director of operations. “We need to put our best foot forward. It’s all about regional growth.”

The cranes back up two newer cranes acquired three years ago for ship unloading. The newer cranes, named “Muddy” and “Spike,” are faster and use less fuel than Big Lucas, but can’t lift as much weight. Big and Little Lucas roll back and forth on tracks while the newer cranes ride rubber tires.

About a dozen members of International Longshoreman’s Association Local 1982 picketed outside port headquarters during the meeting over contentious contract negotiations.

Addressing the port board, union local President Otis Brown accused Midwest Terminals of trying to break the union and force a strike. Mr. Leach denied any union-busting effort and said negotiations were on a positive track.

Port director Richard Gabel urged the board to get involved in the negotiations as an observer. But Mr. Carroll said the board should stay out of the dispute as long as negotiations are occurring. Midwest Terminals’ contract with Local 1982 expired at the end of 2010.

The board also ratified a new three-year contract with its police union, the Ohio Patrolman’s Benevolent Association. The agreement, retroactive to Jan. 1, converts five of nine full-time employees to part-time status. The new part-timers will get 75-cents-per-hour wage increases and all employees will get a $1,500 lump-sump payments.

The union previously ratified the agreement, and round-the-clock police coverage will continue at Toledo Express Airport, said Thomas Winston, the port’s vice president for administration and chief financial officer.

 Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419--724-6058.

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