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State pumps $319M into road projects


Traffic crawls by work on I-280 between the Central Ave- nue overpass, in background, and Manhattan Boulevard.

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More than a fifth of the Ohio Department of Transportation's construction and maintenance budget will be spent in northwest Ohio this year, but the annual orange-barrel bloom will be milder than usual.

That's because a large chunk of the $319 million ODOT is spending during fiscal 2002 in its Bowling Green and Lima-based districts is the $220 million contract for construction of the new I-280 bridge over the Maumee River in Toledo.

Virtually all freeway maintenance in the Toledo area this year will be nighttime resurfacing projects that won't require full-time lane closings.

The freeway project most likely to cause delays will be I-475/U.S. 23 repaving between Maumee and Sylvania because heavy traffic persists into the evening, said Joe Rutherford, the transportation department's district spokesman in Bowling Green.

“There will be long delays there - less than if we had done it during the day, but there still will be delays,” he said during a news conference yesterday.

He said only two of 11 interstate projects in the Bowling Green district will affect traffic significantly. Rhonda Pees, a spokeswoman for ODOT's Lima office, said the two I-75 projects on that district's list will cause minimal problems.

The Maumee River Crossing is the biggest single transportation project in Ohio history. But except for unforeseen problems, ODOT expects no daytime lane closings associated with the project. Among the biggest potential troublemakers is the long-awaited widening of Airport Highway in the Spring Meadows area of Springfield Township. The construction schedule remains uncertain because utility pipes and cables must be moved. Mr. Rutherford said major lane closings may not begin until next spring.

Buck Road in Rossford will be closed at I-75 for an interchange reconstruction similar to the one done last year at Wales Road in Northwood. Preparatory work for that $2.9 million contract began last year, and Mr. Rutherford said the two-lane Buck overpass will close for up to six months, starting next month, for replacement with a four-lane structure.

Motorists in the Crossroads of America area of Rossford will dodge construction zones. A $1.79 million U.S. 20 project includes resurfacing from downtown Perrysburg to Thompson Road, extensions for left-turn lanes east of I-75, and construction of a median barrier that will limit left turns to intersections with traffic signals.

U.S. 20 will be resurfaced to the east during a $1.22 million project that covers the two-lane road between Thompson and Lemoyne Road, near Stony Ridge. For an as-yet unscheduled 21-day period, U.S. 20 will be closed east of Lime City for replacement of the bridge over Cedar Creek. In Lake Township, State Rt. 51 will be closed for an undisclosed period while a bridge near Pemberville Road is replaced. Woodville Road motorists will encounter resurfacing from the city of Toledo limits to State Rt. 163.

ODOT's list includes several city projects in Toledo for which the state is a primary financial contributor. Those projects include the $8 million partial reconstruction of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge in downtown Toledo, expected to begin by summer, and a $2 million widening of Eckel Junction Road between State Rt. 25 and Fort Meigs Road in Perrysburg.

On the north side of Fostoria, about one mile of U.S. 23 between State Rt. 199 and Jones Road will be widened from two lanes to three. A contract for that project, expected to cost about $1.45 million, is to be awarded March 29.

In rural areas, resurfacing and bridge replacements constitute the bulk of the ODOT construction plan. Major routes scheduled for resurfacing include U.S. 20 in parts of Fulton and Williams counties; U.S. 6 in parts of Williams, Henry, and Sandusky counties; U.S. 30 in western Wyandot County; State Rt. 18 between Republic and Bellevue; State Rt. 67 between Republic and Eden; and State Rt. 103 between Carey and Arlington.

Also on U.S. 6, bridge replacements at Tontogany Creek, near Weston, and at the St. Joseph River, in Edgerton, will close the road for 21 days and 75 days, respectively.

Ms. Pees said the Lima district's most challenging project will be a $565,000 reconstruction of the Shawnee Road and State Rt. 117 intersection near Lima that will close Route 117 for 60 days and the entire intersection for half that time.

Construction of a new U.S. 30 between Upper Sandusky and Bucyrus continues but won't affect traffic significantly, she said.

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