New lane patterns will appear next week for motorists who enter northbound I-75 from either the Anthony Wayne Trail or 14th Street, and ODOT is planning more ramp changes in the future to improve safety.
Starting as soon as Monday night - the exact night will depend on when required painting materials are delivered to the site - traffic coming in from the Trail will have a dedicated lane on northbound I-75. Motorists entering from 14th Street, however, will have to merge from two lanes into one on the ramp, which now feeds two lanes directly onto the freeway.
Joe Rutherford, a spokesman at the Ohio Department of Transportation's district office in Bowling Green, said the changes were driven by a statewide safety analysis that identified the Trail entrance as one of Toledo's most dangerous. It now requires vehicles coming up a ramp to the freeway to merge into the left lane of northbound I-75 traffic.
Under current engineering standards, a left-hand entrance wouldn't be allowed, but relocating the ramp would be costly.
Instead, Mr. Rutherford said, a small amount of pavement has been added, and right-lane I-75 traffic has been partially shifted onto unused roadway, to create a third northbound lane between the Trail and 14th.
“We are looking at low-cost, but high-impact, changes that can improve safety,” Mr. Rutherford said.
I-75 has been undergoing nighttime resurfacing in central Toledo, between the Trail interchange and the I-75/I-475 junction, since early July. The northbound lanes and ramps will be realigned when new lane stripes are painted, the ODOT spokesman said.
Next year, two more ramp safety changes are planned.
The two-lane Michigan Street entrance to southbound I-75 near downtown will be reduced to a single lane in an effort to eliminate a troublesome merge with the freeway's left lane. And in Sylvania Township, the westbound I-475 ramp to southbound I-475/U.S. 23 will be reduced to a single lane, eliminating a two-lanes-to-one merge on a curve in the ramp.
The downtown I-75 resurfacing is nearing completion, although a glitch has cropped up that will cause single-lane traffic on the northbound side for several nights. Inspections have revealed substandard pavement in the left lane between the Trail and Collingwood Boulevard, Mr. Rutherford said, so the new blacktop there will be scraped away and replaced at contractor S.E. Johnson's expense.
After the resurfacing is done, the firm is to make bridge deck and joint repairs on the DiSalle Bridge over the Maumee River, and smaller spans nearby. That work is not expected to cause significant traffic delays, Mr. Rutherford said.
Single-lane zones during the resurfacing work have caused long delays, and 9-year-old Jessica Ortega, of Allen Park, Mich., died July 16 when a tractor-trailer slammed into a line of vehicles backed up on the DiSalle approaching the northbound work zone.
Truck driver David Jepson, 46, of St. Colomban, Que., is believed to have fallen asleep at the wheel and was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide and six counts of vehicular assault.