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Published: Friday, 7/25/2003

Barrier work puts end in sight for 2-year project

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Construction of the permanent median barrier on Airport Highway between I-475 and Holloway Road will begin next week, marking a milestone in the busy road's two-year reconstruction.

When reconfiguration of the Airport intersection with Spring Valley Drive is finished Tuesday, the major road-building portion of the project will be complete, said Joe Rutherford, an Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman in Bowling Green.

On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, an intermediate layer of asphalt will be paved on the active lanes, which will require single-lane traffic directed by flag crews, Mr. Rutherford said. The flag zone will be east of McCord Road on Tuesday night, and west of McCord on Wednesday between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. the next morning, he said.

“We picked those nights because we were hoping to catch really low traffic volumes,” the spokesman said.

The surface pavement layer will be paved later, and complex electrical work for lights and traffic signal controls remains to be done as well, Mr. Rutherford said. But by late next month, or early September at the latest, at least a second lane of traffic is likely to open in each direction, he said.

“The end is starting to be in sight, especially with the work that's starting next week,” Mr. Rutherford said.

A permanent median has been planned for Airport Highway in the Spring Meadows commercial area since 1995, when ODOT put up temporary barriers in response to a spate of crashes involving vehicles turning left into or out of driveways between traffic signals. Airport is part of State Rt. 2, and in the Spring Meadows area it is the busiest surface road in Lucas County.

“The median is the reason this project originated,” Mr. Rutherford said.

The construction project, which has risen from an initial $9.2 million estimate to nearly $10.6 million, includes widening Airport from five lanes to seven between I-475 and McCord and also rebuilding it the rest of the way to Holloway.

Nearly half the cost increase over the original contract is attributable to Miller Brothers Construction's efforts to speed up construction, getting the work done in two construction seasons instead of three, Mr. Rutherford said. An additional $600,000 was incurred when excavators discovered soils beneath the old roadway that were not suitable for road construction, he said.

Miller Brothers is required to have all lanes open by Nov. 11, in time for the peak holiday shopping season at Spring Meadows. Despite an unusually wet spring, the contractor has managed to keep the project on or ahead of schedule, the ODOT spokesman said.

“We had some dry stretches of weather when we needed it,” Mr. Rutherford said.

The project has caused substantial traffic back-ups during peak travel periods, though over time many motorists have learned to find alternate routes or leave extra time to get where they're going.

“It's been a huge, major inconvenience, and I'm sure it's hurt the businesses in the area,” said Bob Anderson, Springfield Township administrator.

But Miller Brothers and ODOT have done a “really tremendous job” of sticking to their schedules and communicating with local interests to keep construction pain to an absolute minimum, he said.



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