“Fascinating” and “pioneering” were just some of the words Gov. Bob Taft used yesterday to describe the I-280 Maumee River Crossing project after touring the East Toledo side of the construction site yesterday afternoon.
“This is unbelievable. I knew it was the largest project in Ohio history, but I had no idea of the complexity or [enormousness] of the job,” the governor said during a brief news conference atop the future Front Street exit ramp from southbound I-280.
“And I'm pleased that it's 405 days ahead of schedule.”
The schedule information came from an Ohio Department of Transportation briefing Governor Taft received before his tour. Project officials said that while the previously announced August, 2005, bridge opening is unchanged, that schedule is now officially part of the contract with Fru-Con, Inc., which previously had until October, 2006, to finish the project.
“Now they have a penalty if it's not done in 2005,” said Richard Martinko, ODOT's assistant director for highway management.
The governor's tour included visits to:
“It's like an assembly line,” Mr. Taft said during the casting-yard stop. “There are a lot of very skilled workers here, and they know what they're doing.”
While most of the visible construction remains to be done, ODOT officials said the project actually is 45 percent complete, with about $100 million of the $220 million bridge contract spent as of Tuesday.
Two huge erecting-truss cranes at the bridge's east abutment are ready to be load-tested and should begin installing segments for the I-280 mainline lanes by month's end, Mr. Martinko said.
Besides marveling at the technology in use at the project site, Mr. Taft said he was impressed that two lanes of traffic are being maintained on I-280 during construction.
Some lane closings, and even totalfreeway shutdowns, have been required during off-peak hours. The next total closing is scheduled for the weekend of July 26-27, with I-280 to be detoured starting the evening of July 25 and reopening by the morning rush hour on July 28.