Widening two congested, single-lane ramps is the most critical need at the I-75/I-475 junction near downtown Toledo, Ohio Department of Transportation officials say.
But to add a second lane to each of those ramps - one allowing eastbound I-475 traffic onto northbound I-75, the other linking southbound I-75 to westbound I-475 - other interchanges nearby must be eliminated or modified.
ODOT's alternatives for the area will be the subject of a public meeting Thursday at the Blessed Sacrament Community Center in West Toledo.
The project's future will depend largely on how many people turn out to object to the potential loss of several interchanges, Richard Martinko, district deputy director at the department's Bowling Green office, said yesterday.
To adhere strictly to federal engineering standards, Mr. Martinko said, ODOT would have to eliminate all ramps east of Douglas Road on I-475 and all ramps between I-475 and Phillips Avenue. On I-475, that would include the Central Avenue exits and Upton Avenue entrances, while the ramps at Jeep/Willys parkways and Berdan Avenue would be removed from I-75.
Mr. Martinko and Mike Ligibel, ODOT's district planning administrator, said they're fully aware that closing those ramps would greatly inconvenience numerous West Toledo commuters who use the freeways, along with Toledo Hospital traffic and vehicles headed to or from what's left of DaimlerChrysler's Jeep Parkway factory. Congestion on nearby arterial streets, like Central and Sylvania avenues, Monroe Street, and Secor and Douglas roads, likely would worsen, they said.
But the Federal Highway Administration has to be shown all those problems for it to accept any alternatives, the ODOT officials said.
“They don't want to give you a design exemption unless you prove that you can't make it work within their design parameters,” Mr. Martinko said.
During the meeting Thursday, scheduled for 6:30 p.m., ODOT will present six alternatives that represent three options for I-75 and three for I-475: one for each freeway that represents strict compliance with the federal guidelines and two apiece that retain some non-complying interchanges.