While engineers determine how to build the next Maumee River crossing within the bounds of design and budget, area citizens next month will be asked for ideas about a bridge feature that is constrained only by good taste.
Beginning Jan. 8 and continuing through April, the Maumee River Crossing Task Force will seek public suggestions for what the new I-280 bridge should be called.
The top ideas, as screened by a task force committee and voted on by the public, will be referred to the Ohio General Assembly.
“This is a public project. We've had public input from the get-go,” said Cathy Mott, chairwoman of the task force's public participation committee. “It only stands to reason that when it comes down to naming this magnificent structure, that the public should have a part in that as well.”
Project planners hope that those nominating a bridge name will consider how their suggestion fits in with the local community, northwest Ohio, and the bridge's theme, which is Toledo's association with the glass industry. Nomination forms ask for a brief written explanation for the suggestion that must be completed for an idea to be considered.
Copies of the form will be available in all branches of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, and Holly Stacy, a project spokeswoman, said local schools and civic clubs will be invited to participate.
Collection boxes will be placed in the libraries and at the HNTB/Look Up, Toledo! office at 33 South Michigan St.
Nominations may be made on-line at the www.lookuptoledo.org website.
During late spring the public participation committee's naming subcommittee will review the proposals and narrow them down to a short list that will be released by July 31 for public comment and ranking. The most popular ideas will be referred to the legislature in September.
State Rep. Lynn Olman (R., Maumee), one of two legislators on the naming subcommittee, said that while state lawmakers will have the final say, he expects his colleagues to be cooperative.
“As long as the members of the local delegation are in agreement, the members of the General Assembly will respect that,” Mr. Olman said. Jeanine Perry (D., Toledo) also is on the task force subcommittee.
Mr. Olman said he has a couple of name ideas he'll submit but declined to disclose them, saying he did not want to influence the initial submission of ideas.
Ms. Mott said her husband has a pet idea “and thinks that because I'm the committee chairman he should have some sort of [influence]” in the process - which won't be the case, she said.
One thing is for sure, Ms. Mott said: The naming rights won't be sold, even though that might generate a little extra cash for the project. Taxpayers already are paying for the naming rights through the project's public funding, she said.