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Published: 6/13/2006

I-280 ramp is expected to alleviate congestion

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Congestion on the inbound Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge should ease today with the opening of a temporary ramp from the northbound Craig Memorial Bridge to southbound Summit Street.

But the lane closings and detours that began this past weekend mark a point in the Veterans' Glass City Skyway construction at which a series of Summit closings will be required while cranes work overhead to assemble the $220 million bridge.

Project contractor Fru-Con also has installed the first segment on the North Toledo side of the main pylon, although Mike Gramza, the Ohio Department of Transportation's project manager, said it will be "several weeks" before enough segments are added there to require stringing the first of the bridge's stay cables.

The Craig bridge's northbound lanes were scheduled to reopen by 6 a.m. today, but I-280 will remain closed in both directions between Summit and the Greenbelt Parkway until at least late August, and possibly longer.

A public meeting about ODOT"s options for continuing bridge construction with or without extending the North Toledo freeway closing that had been scheduled for next week has been postponed until August, Mr. Gramza said yesterday.

The delay is needed because the length of the possible extension is uncertain and will depend on how much progress is made between now and the end of July, the project manager said.

"We want to get as much information as we can before we go out to the public," Mr. Gramza said.

After being closed for the weekend, Summit reopened yesterday morning between Bush and Buckeye streets to two-way traffic using what are normally its northbound lanes. The regular southbound lanes' closing, scheduled to continue through July, allows assembly of bridge spans overhead.

The temporary ramp, built starting Friday to allow traffic to go from northbound I-280 to southbound Summit without traveling underneath the active work area, is scheduled to be open today.

Traffic on southbound Summit will remain without access to southbound I-280 during the current construction phase, and the ramp from the northbound Craig bridge to northbound Summit will remain closed through the next phase as well.

On about Aug. 1, southbound Summit will reopen but northbound Summit will close, and for that closing a detour must be used instead of two-way traffic because of the way Summit is configured near I-280, Mr. Gramza said.

Details about that detour will be issued as that date approaches, he said.

Progress on the Skyway's North Toledo approach spans are the key to the freeway's reopening.

Crews using a gantry crane known as the Strukturas have eight spans to go to complete the southbound half of the bridge's North Toledo approach viaduct. But work on the northbound side started much later and is not nearly as far along, and officials will face a decision in August about suspending that work until part of the new bridge opens or keeping I-280 closed longer to keep construction moving.

While I-280 remains open to local traffic north of Greenbelt Parkway and south of Summit, through traffic is detoured via I-75 and State Rt. 795. Toledo officials last month closed a block of Bush and posted a three-ton weight limit on Galena Street to deter cut-through motorists.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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