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Published: Thursday, 3/4/2004

I-280 north to open Monday if crane cleanup is finished

A workman cuts away a portion of the wrecked crane where four workers were killed and four others were hurt Feb. 16. A workman cuts away a portion of the wrecked crane where four workers were killed and four others were hurt Feb. 16.

While the Ohio Department of Transportation hopes to reopen northbound I-280 in East Toledo by Monday morning, that still depends on how the weather affects cleanup of the construction crane collapse that closed the freeway Feb. 16, agency officials said yesterday.

Rainy weather forecast to move in to the Toledo area overnight “could slow us down,” said Todd Audet, ODOT s district deputy director from Bowling Green. Rainfall earlier this week, he noted, was the reason a previous goal of reopening the road tomorrow fell by the wayside.

Joe Rutherford, the district office s spokesman, said officials should have a better idea tomorrow whether the Monday target can be met.

“We re cautiously optimistic we can have the interstate re-opened by Monday morning,” he said.

Four workers were killed and four others hurt when a truss crane for erecting segments of the new I-280 bridge over the Maumee River collapsed while being repositioned Feb. 16.

A piece of the wreckage that protruded onto the northbound left lane since has been removed, but two other sections that officials say pose a hazard if they were to fall to the ground remain to be dismantled. The southbound lanes reopened through the area Feb. 18, but northbound I-280 remains shut between Navarre Avenue and Front Street.

On Tuesday, workers completed a six-foot high, screened fence atop the barrier between the southbound lanes and the accident site.

The cause of the collapse remains under investigation. Interviews of about 40 workers, supervisors, witnesses, and others involved in the project have begun, Mr. Audet said, and officials expect wreckage removal to take about five more weeks. By the end of this month, Fru-Con, Inc., general contractor for the $220 million project, is expected to give ODOT plans outlining how it might resume construction.

While work on the central pylon and North Toledo piers has resumed, as has pre-cast bridge segment production, the process of lifting and securing the segments into place on the bridge awaits completion of the clean-up and the investigation.

Fru-Con s plans will include several alternative construction methods, Mr. Audet said, so that there will be other ways to proceed should officials determine that use of a second erection truss crane, identical to the one that collapsed, cannot resume.

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