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Published: Thursday, 11/2/2000

I-75 to reopen Sunday, week ahead of plan

Dry, mild October weather that helped keep an I-75 repair project moving along is the main reason lane closings should end by Sunday, a week ahead of schedule, project officials said yesterday.

“This is just extremely extraordinary weather for October and early November,” said Chuck Kethel, the senior project engineer for Ohio Department of Transportation contractor E.S. Wagner Co. “It's actually ruining my duck hunting, but that's all right.”

Joe Rutherford, an ODOT spokesman in Bowling Green, said some of the pavement repairs needed on I-75 between I-280 and I-475 were less extensive than anticipated when the project plans were drawn up, which also helped Wagner crews finish ahead of schedule.

The work-zone reprieve, however, is good only for four months.

The I-75 repairs, which began Oct. 2, are only a prelude to the reconstruction next spring of the freeway's viaduct over Berdan and Detroit avenues, which will require single-lane traffic for six months. Wagner may start work on that final, larger phase of its $14.7 million contract as soon as March 1, Mr. Rutherford said.

The first phase of the I-75 work involved repairing concrete roadway joints, reinforcing the freeway's shoulders, creating crossovers in the median wall for use during next year's construction, and completely rebuilding a short stretch that was built over the North Cove Landfill.

A week ago, ODOT disclosed that the deadline had been extended by five days, to Nov. 11, because construction over the landfill side had been more extensive than anticipated.

But yesterday, Mr. Rutherford said the reduced repair workload - only 13 joints needed complete replacement, instead of 20 - and the benign weather allowed Wagner to finish the repairs on mainline I-75 early. And the firm completed repairs to the ramp from eastbound I-475 to northbound I-75 in just four days instead of the scheduled two weeks. The contractor will be rewarded for the early completions with a $170,000 bonus, as provided in the contract, Mr. Rutherford said.

The contract gave Wagner 35 days to do the first repair phase, rain or shine. But while the 2.83 inches of rain the National Weather Service recorded at Toledo Express Airport during October was above normal, 2.3 inches of it fell on Oct. 4-5, with dry conditions prevailing for the rest of the month. Mr. Rutherford said Wagner lost just one workday to rain during the entire month, when it had planned for four rainout days.

Also helping construction was relative warmth, which supports concrete and asphalt paving and repairs.

While Tony Spicer, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Cleveland, said the month did not rank among the Top 10 warmest Octobers on record, the 55.4-degree average temperature was still 4.2 degrees above normal.

And the weather service did not report a freezing temperature at the airport until the mercury dipped to 31 degrees on Sunday. In nine out of 10 years, Toledo would have had a frost by Oct. 28, and its first frost on average occurs on Oct. 12, according to weather records.

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