After years of planning, 2002 is when Toledo's new I-280 bridge over the Maumee River - destined to become a dominant feature of the city's skyline - will start taking shape.
By the end of the year, the cable-stayed bridge's central pylon will begin rising from the Maumee's middle, while foundations will have been finished for piers that will carry approach spans over land and abutments at either end will be built, said Joe Rutherford, an Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman.
The other key step this year, Mr. Rutherford said, is the establishment of a construction yard where concrete roadway segments will be pre-cast for later installation. The first few segments could be in place by the end of the year, he said.
If construction proceeds on schedule, the bridge will open to traffic in 2004, while all finishing touches to the project will be done by mid-2006, the spokesman said.
And while the firm that won the contract is from Missouri, the E.S. Wagner Corp. of Oregon is expected to be a major subcontractor. The project will generate hundreds of union construction jobs in Toledo during its four years.
The $220 million contract with Fru-Con Construction, of Baldwin, Mo., is the largest single award in the history of the state's transportation department. Combined with about $80 million in upgrades for adjacent portions of I-280, the bridge project will bring the former Detroit-Toledo Expressway, built during the 1950s, up to modern design standards.
The new bridge, soaring 120 feet over the river and 1,250 feet from shore to shore, will bypass the Craig Memorial Bridge, one of just five active drawbridges on the U.S. interstate system and a chronic source of traffic delays.
The bridge's central tower, or pylon, will be inlaid with internally lit glass; its cables will be sheathed in stainless steel; and variable-color lights will illuminate the bridge at night. At about 375 feet above normal river level, the pylon will be one of Toledo's tallest structures. City officials have included renditions of the bridge on welcome signs that depict the downtown area.
In addition to the main bridge, 8,900 feet of viaduct will be built on either side of the river, with the freeway touching down at the Buckeye Basin Greenbelt Parkway in North Toledo and near Ravine Parkway North in East Toledo.
Overall, about 3.8 miles of I-280 are involved in the project. Construction began last year to widen, from four lanes to six, the portions of the freeway between I-75 and Navarre Avenue that will remain at ground level.
Contracts remain to be awarded for reconstruction of the I-280 ramps that connect with I-75 in North Toledo, for street reconstruction near the Craig bridge, which will remain in place for local traffic, and for landscaping the portions of I-280 that will be removed.
Interchange complexes at either end of the Craig will be replaced with a “T” intersection at Summit Street and a four-way intersection at Front Street, with ramps up to I-280 from the eastern side of Front. Tentative plans call for vacated land to be transformed into parks.
The Ohio Department of Transportation's selection of a cable-stayed structure over other possible bridge types, and subsequent decisions about the bridge's design and aesthetic details, were made after a series of meetings in which citizens were invited to offer ideas and preferences.
During construction, a camera will transmit live images to the www.lookuptoledo.org web site operated by HNTB Ohio, the state's management consultant for the project. Time-lapse photographs will be made to document the project.