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Published: Saturday, 2/19/2005

Front Street becomes a victim of delays in Marina District

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Rayford Sturdevant, a Toledo street worker, fills some of the many potholes in Front Street with patching material. Rayford Sturdevant, a Toledo street worker, fills some of the many potholes in Front Street with patching material.
ALLAN DETRICH Enlarge

For years, Toledo officials have been promising to fix up Front Street between Main Street and I-280 as soon as the Marina District project is built.

Doing so any sooner, the logic goes, would subject the new pavement to battering from heavy trucks going to and from the riverfront development during its construction.

But as Marina District planning has dragged on and on, Front has become worse and worse.

The half-mile between Main and the freeway ranks among, if not atop, the roughest rides in Toledo, with pits in its blacktop aligned along the joints of older concrete pavement underneath and larger potholes scattered throughout, especially along the curbs.

While several other streets were nominated, drivers of Black & White cabs were in general agreement yesterday that Front is Toledo's worst, said Scott Cooper, the company's co-owner.

Jim Gee, the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority's general manager, said it's no favorite, either, with bus drivers who have East Toledo routes.

"That street is really rough," said David Smart, a Black & White driver who regularly carries East Toledo customers.

"They definitely need to patch that up."

"It's tearing up our vehicles driving on it," said Betty Fisher, of Wheeling Street. To head off the risk of damage severe enough to require repair, she said, "I avoid [Front] and go totally out of my way to get to work."

Ms. Fisher is one of several who have complained to Councilman Bob McCloskey, whose district includes East Toledo. Mr. McCloskey, in turn, said his district is being shortchanged by a city policy of focusing repairs on streets for which it has been able to secure state funding help.

"The [Ford] administration is not doing a very good job on this type of thing," Mr. McCloskey said, adding that he has urged city administrators to seek state help with Front because it may become an alternate route for certain I-280 traffic when the freeway is closed during the second half of this year.

Bill Franklin, the city's assistant chief operating officer, said officials toured the rough stretch of Front this week and are developing plans for short-term repairs as soon as the hot-mix asphalt plants open in the spring. Cold-mix pothole patching that crews have done in recent weeks hasn't been very effective, he conceded.

"It needs a total reconstruction," Mr. Franklin said. "But it doesn't make any sense to do that now, not when we're going to have trucks coming through for the Marina District and with it possibly becoming a truck detour route for I-280. We would be throwing good money away."

City officials are seeking to include Front in the next, 2006-2009 edition of the federally funded Transportation Improvement Program, which the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments coordinates, Mr. Franklin said.

How much will be done before then depends on how much money the city can come up with, he said.

Grinding and repaving all of Front between Main and Carbon Street, near I-280, would cost close to $1 million, which is probably more than Toledo can afford "unless we can get some help," Mr. Franklin said.

A less extensive repair "isn't going to look beautiful, but we can make it ride better," Mr. Franklin said.

Joe Rutherford, an Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman, said state officials are aware of Front's condition, too - many of them drive the street to get to the management office for the Veterans Glass City Skyway bridge project, the construction of which is the reason Front may become an I-280 detour route later this year.

ODOT's standard practice for detours using local streets, Mr. Rutherford said, is to document the street condition before the detour starts and then review it again afterward. Officials will "try to work with the city" concerning Front's condition, he said, "but there are a lot of restrictions on what we can do."

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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