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Published: Thursday, 3/13/2003

Striking sights are coming our way

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The “wow factor” will kick in this year at the I-280 Maumee River Crossing site.

Before long, two huge launching trusses being assembled on the East Toledo side of the river between the northbound and southbound lanes will be hoisted into place. Soon thereafter, assembly of the bridge's East Toledo approach spans will begin.

And by year's end, the $220 million project's central pylon will have climbed 250 feet out of the river, well on its way to its ultimate 400 feet.

“People are starting to get an idea of the magnitude of this project, but the first step of the really big `wow' is when those launching trusses go in place,” Joe Rutherford, an Ohio Department of Transportation district spokesman, said yesterday. “They're going to be well over 350 feet long. And as those get closer to the river, the pylon is starting to rise out of the water.”

While ODOT and its contractor, Fru-Con, Inc., of Ballwin, Mo., will adhere to a pledge to maintain two lanes of traffic in both directions of I-280 during peak travel hours, the ongoing construction will have its inconveniences.

For seven more weekends, the freeway will be closed entirely during construction of “hammerhead” piers over the travel lanes in East Toledo. The first two such weekends are tentatively set for March 28-30 and April 4-6.

On those weekends and five thereafter that haven't been scheduled, I-280 will close Friday nights and reopen by 6 a.m. the following Monday. Traffic will be detoured onto I-75 and State Rt. 795.

Before and after Toledo Storm home hockey games that occur during the work, the Craig Memorial Bridge will be opened to cross-river traffic. I-280 will remain closed north of Summit Street and south of Front Street.

Motorists who now use two of four I-280 ramps at Summit are going to have to get used to using the Buckeye Basin Greenbelt Parkway interchange instead. Sometime this spring, the southbound I-280 exit at Summit will be closed permanently. In the fall, the northbound Summit entrance to northbound I-280 will close for good, too.

The northbound I-280 exit to Summit will remain open, and starting in May it will handle traffic that now exits at Greenbelt, where the northbound exit ramp will close until the new Maumee River span opens sometime in 2005.

And on Wednesday, the Greenbelt entrance to southbound I-280 will close for six days. A second closing, of similar duration, will occur later this spring.

Work to widen I-280 from four lanes to six the rest of the way between I-75 and Navarre Avenue continues as well, and except for I-280/I-75 interchange reconstruction should be substantially complete by year's end, ODOT construction engineer Mike Gramza said.

This year's closings associated with the widening work include:

w Starr Avenue, for one week in early summer, while the I-280 overpass is painted.

w The Starr exit from southbound I-280, for one week in June, during mainline construction.

w Seaman Street, for three weeks during the summer, while the street is rebuilt underneath I-280.

w The Manhattan Boulevard entrance to northbound I-75, for one week during the summer, during pavement reconstruction.

w The Manhattan entrance to southbound I-280, long-term closing will resume in the fall.

w Various ramp closings within the I-75/I-280 interchange for a total of three weekends each. The closings will be coordinated with the full I-280 detours whenever possible, including the weekend of March 28-30, Mr. Gramza said.

While Fru-Con's contract provides an Oct. 26, 2006, deadline for the main bridge project, the contractor has reported that work remains on schedule to be finished by the end of 2005, Mr. Gramza said.



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