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Published: Wednesday, 3/8/2006

I-75 interchange at Alexis Road set for rehabilitation

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

When the city of Toledo resurfaced Alexis Road between Suder and Detroit avenues two years ago, it left untouched the battered pavement within and near the I-75 interchange, leading some to question officials' sanity.

The reason for that omission will become evident on March 27 when the Ohio Department of Transportation will start a $4 million project to rebuild Alexis and its freeway ramps, including deck replacements on bridges over I-75 and the Canadian National Railroad.

Scheduled for completion by Sept. 15, the project was formally announced yesterday as ODOT's Bowling Green district office kicked off its 2006 construction season.

The campaign will be highlighted - or low-lighted, depending on one's opinion of orange construction barrels - by a $10.2 million bridge re-decking project in Sylvania Township that will reduce both U.S. 23 and I-475 to a single lane in each direction for up to six months, starting by early April.

Todd Audet, ODOT's district deputy director, said the department will set up programmable message signs, Web cameras, and a low-powered radio station to update travelers about the project's status and provide congestion reports.

While ODOT does not have any proven means to predict traffic delays, Mr. Audet cautioned motorists to allow 15 to 30 extra minutes for their commutes if they use either freeway in Sylvania Township, especially at the start.

"You could see long backups for extended periods of time," especially if some of the 115,000 vehicles that use either freeway, or both, don't adapt to the construction by using alternative routes that include Central Avenue, Sylvania Avenue, or Monroe Street.

Central itself may become jammed up near I-475/U.S. 23 by traffic following the posted detour route for two ramps within the junction that will be closed during the work.

Ramp closings also will be a part of the Alexis project, though not for nearly as long. For two weeks sometime in May, I-75's southbound exit and northbound entrance will be closed. Sometime later in the project, scheduled to be finished by Sept. 15, the interchange's other two ramps will be closed.

"We're going to totally rebuild those ramps - they're just trashed," said Mike Gramza, ODOT's district construction engineer.

Jerry Willier, who lives off Suder Avenue north of Alexis, said the construction's inconvenience will be well worth the money he expects to save on car repairs.

"It's gonna mean I don't have to go in for alignments or broken glass belts," he said.

While Alexis will be reduced to one lane each way, no long-term lane closings are expected on I-75.

Statewide, ODOT plans to spend $1.4 billion on highway repairs and improvements, including the first stage of the Fort to Port project on U.S. 24 near Defiance and a major reconstruction of the I-80 bridge over Meander Reservoir northwest of Youngstown.

Construction continues on the I-280 Veterans' Glass City Skyway in Toledo and the State Rt. 2 Edison Bridge near Sandusky. I-280 is closed until at least May for the former, while Route 2 is restricted to one lane each way until May 15, after which lane closings will occur only midweek during the peak tourism season.

Other projects planned for the area include:

●I-75 resurfacing through Findlay, requiring nighttime and off-peak lane closings in May and June.

●Reconstruction of the I-75 interchange at State Rt. 696 near Beaverdam, requiring occasional lane closings and three through-the-interchange detours on weekends to be announced.

●New bridges over railroad tracks for Tiffin Street in Fostoria and Oregon Road in Perrysburg Township, with the former completed this year and the latter in 2007.

●A culvert replacement on the U.S. 20 Fremont Bypass near State Rt. 412, requiring lane closings.

●Rehabilitation of the State Rt. 25 bridge over I-475/U.S. 23 in Perrysburg, requiring a detour on Route 25 for 45 days starting in late June.

●Resurfacing the ramp from northbound I-75 to northbound I-475/U.S. 23, which will require a one-week detour in either June or July.

●Continued widening of State Rt. 53 between the Fremont Bypass and the Ohio Turnpike.

●Continued construction of the U.S. 20/23 interchange with State Rt. 420 east of Lemoyne in Wood County.

●Continued construction of new U.S. 30 between Upper Sandusky and State Rt. 235 in Hancock County.

The heavy traffic that has worn out the bridges on U.S. 23 and I-475 also is the reason for a study ODOT is conducting to develop plans for widening those freeways and possibly adding interchanges.

Such construction could cost $200 million, and is unlikely to start before 2014, Mr. Audet said.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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