Two of Toledo's busiest sections of freeway will be resurfaced this spring, but daytime motorists should notice only a few rough edges under their tires during construction.
“These projects are being done at night, so there should be few, if any, inconveniences for daytime travelers,” said Joe Rutherford, the Ohio Department of Transportation's regional spokesman, during an announcement yesterday of the 2003 ODOT construction program.
The freeways involved are I-75 between Anthony Wayne Trail and I-475, and I-475 between I-75 and Corey Road. The $3.75 million I-75 project will include grinding down the freeway's top three inches and replacing it, while I-475 will get a one-inch surface coat to extend its pavement's lifespan.
The two resurfacing projects are part of a $1.2 billion statewide program that includes more than $140 million in new maintenance and repair projects in northwest Ohio.
Several projects begun in previous years continue as well, most notably the mammoth I-280 Maumee River Crossing and Airport Highway widening in Springfield Township.
Airport Highway is scheduled to be restricted to one lane each way between I-475 and Holloway Road for most of the year while it is widened from four lanes to six and a center divider is built. Work may start as soon as Monday, weather permitting, Mr. Rutherford said. Dry pavement is required to paint new lane stripes to reroute traffic through the work area.
I-75 will get a particularly heavy dose of ODOT attention this year. Along with the downtown resurfacing, it will be affected by overpass painting at Central Avenue and overpass reconstruction at Detroit Avenue, both in Toledo; nighttime resurfacing south of Bowling Green; interchange reconstruction at State Rt. 18 near North Baltimore and at State Rt. 12 in Findlay, and bridge work south of Findlay.
Robert Ruse, the Findlay safety-service director, said the distinctive appearance for the Route 12 bridges is the result of planning meetings ODOT held with city officials for the last 18 months or so. It is expected to be the first of three I-75 overpasses to be rebuilt with decorative railings, stone facades, and artwork.
The city wanted the bridges to have a consistent appearance, be aesthetically pleasing, and show some community spirit, Mr. Ruse said. ODOT appears to have complied in an economical way, he said.
“They're not breaking the bank. It's a very small piece of the overall project,” Mr. Ruse said. “But it will give some aesthetics, and tie into our heritage. It's good for the community.”
A similar bridge over I-75 north of Cincinnati that was rebuilt several years ago features decorations associated with the University of Cincinnati.
Karen Young, ODOT's design-aesthetics coordinator at its Columbus headquarters, said adding decorative features to bridges benefits safety, too: research shows that breaking the monotony of long-distance travel makes drivers more alert.
“If we can do something to add color and shape without a lot of additional expense, it's well worth it,” she said.
Rhonda Pees, a spokesman at ODOT's district office in Lima, said that for one weekend in May, I-75 traffic will be detoured through the Route 12 interchange while the old overpass is torn down. There may be other daytime lane closings on I-75 during the Findlay project, she said, but efforts will be made to keep them as brief as possible.
The schedule for the Route 18 interchange project remains uncertain, Mr. Rutherford said, because the contractor has proposed a one-year completion timetable that, while more aggressive than ODOT's two-year plan, appears vulnerable to weather delays.
“If they get delayed, Route 18 could end up being closed for nine or 10 months instead of four or five, and that's unacceptable,” Mr. Rutherford said. “We're still looking at the schedule, trying to find out if there is a way to get it done this year.”
The Detroit Avenue project in Toledo, scheduled to begin next month, will restrict Detroit traffic to one lane each way north of Monroe Street and require occasional lane closings on I-75. It is scheduled for completion by Sept. 30.
By then, work may have begun on a painting and repair project at the nearby Central Avenue bridge over I-75, Mr. Rutherford said. But a planned one-week closing of Central, required during repairs at each end of the structure, won't occur until all lanes on Detroit have reopened.
Other major ODOT-managed projects in Toledo include resurfacing on Alexis Road between Raintree Boulevard and Suder Avenue, and rehabilitation and widening of Miami Street between Fassett and First streets. In Perrysburg, the state will manage municipal widening projects on Eckel Junction Road and West South Boundary Street, because of federal funding in the projects' budgets.
In Michigan, major reconstruction is scheduled to begin next month along an 81/2-mile stretch of U.S. 23 in Summerfield and Dundee townships that will restrict traffic to one lane each way for most of the rest of the year. The Michigan Department of Transportation this week announced the $26 million project has begun but said initial work will be confined to overpasses between the Ohio-Michigan line and Dundee.
The pavement reconstruction zone will stretch from just south of Ida Center Road to just north of M-50. Ramp closings will occur as work progresses.