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Published: Sunday, 11/14/2010

Transforming Toledo

WHAT a difference a decade makes to an old stretch of freeway that took a beating while Toledo's signature bridge over the Maumee River was built. Today, with the Veterans' Glass City Skyway rising majestically in the background, area residents have something new to celebrate.

A former I-280 right-of-way has been transformed into a park with a multi-use trail that's attracting cyclists, walkers, and runners. The trail winds beneath the North Toledo viaduct of the Skyway, crossing the Craig Memorial Bridge into Tribute and Ravine parks.

The welcome development is part of a $22 million Ohio Department of Transportation project to restore what was left of the old freeway that was replaced by the Skyway overhead.

It fulfills a pledge by the Transportation Department to reunify Toledo's North End neighborhood, which was divided by construction of the Detroit-Toledo Expressway during the 1950s.

The department paid to refill the trench left behind by the freeway. A combination of state, city, and federal funding allowed the Craig Bridge to be reconfigured for local use and the trail to be built.

In addition to the creation of a 2.21-mile trail, some 40 acres of highway right-of-way were converted to parkland, seeded with native grass, and planted with about 350 trees. The change is remarkable.

For nearly 10 years, while the Skyway was being built, nearby residents endured the noise, dust, and inconvenience that came with the massive construction effort. Their patience has been rewarded, not only with improved interchanges at Summit and Front streets, but also with a landscaped park and a multipurpose trail.

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