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Published: Saturday, 3/25/2006

Veterans Skyway work won't end till fall '07

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Workers install a section of the Veterans Glass City Skyway in Toledo in November. The project has suffered many setbacks. Workers install a section of the Veterans Glass City Skyway in Toledo in November. The project has suffered many setbacks.
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Thousands of motorists who use I-280 to get around and through Toledo got some bad news yesterday from the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The section of the interstate between Summit Street and the Greenbelt Parkway will remain closed at least three months beyond its promised mid-May opening. Even worse, completion of the entire $220 million Veterans Glass City Skyway project over the Maumee River is now delayed from the end of 2006 to fall 2007.

Fru-Con Construction Corp., the Ballwin, Mo.-based, contractor for the project, advised ODOT officials that work on approach spans to the new skyway over the existing I-280 in North Toledo has gone slower than expected, Mike Gramza, ODOT's project manager, said yesterday. The affected section of I-280 between the Greenbelt Parkway and Summit was supposed to be closed seven months based on a timetable last spring.

Fru-Con faces a potential loss of $1,000 per day in payment for each day past May 16 that the freeway remains closed in North Toledo, and a $2,000 per day deduction for each day past Dec. 23 that the entire project is not finished, Mr. Gramza said.

Those penalties will likely be modified during discussions aimed at getting the bridge completed as soon as possible within the bounds of safety, he said.

"They're looking at options, and we're looking at options to bring the project in sooner" than fall, 2007, Mr. Gramza said.

State officials suggested in early January that the I-280 closing might be extended this summer to allow overhead work to be done. But Mr. Gramza said the extension established yesterday is needed simply to complete the bridge's southbound approach viaduct in North Toledo.

Depending on how well construction of the northbound lanes in that area progresses, even more freeway closing time could be needed, he said. It is also unclear whether construction of four spans of the northbound approach viaduct in East Toledo will coincide with the extended North Toledo closing.

In the meantime, I-280 remains open to local traffic only north and south of the work area. Through traffic is directed to detour via I-75 and State Rt. 795, creating heavier traffic than normal along those routes and at the interchange with the Ohio Turnpike in southern Rossford.

"Nobody's happy about [the detour], but people have gotten used to it. There's just not a whole lot you can do," said Steve Nathanson, chairman of the Veterans' Glass City Skyway Task Force. The task force is a public liaison group for the project.

Fru-Con once hoped to finish the bridge by Labor Day, 2005, but that schedule was dashed after a crane collapse on Feb. 16, 2004, killed four workers, injured four others, and destroyed one of two cranes used to build the structure. Main-line construction was halted for 16 months and has been slower with substitute equipment.

On March 3, Toledo officials posted a 6,000-pound weight limit on Galena Street to discourage big trucks which have been using it as a shortcut through North Toledo. Police said yesterday active enforcement of that limit will continue.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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