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Published: Wednesday, 11/8/2006

Thanksgiving travelers will find I-280 open

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
ODOT's current schedule calls for the Veterans' Glass City Skyway over the Maumee River to open to traffic by mid-spring. ODOT's current schedule calls for the Veterans' Glass City Skyway over the Maumee River to open to traffic by mid-spring.
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I-280 will reopen through Toledo for the busy Thanksgiving travel weekend - even if doing so requires delaying the removal of a crane now being used to build the Veterans' Glass City Skyway's North Toledo approach viaduct, an Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman said yesterday.

"We'll have it open, but it's gonna be tight," ODOT spokesman Andrea Voogd said, adding later: "We're going to try for two lanes in each direction, but in the worst case, there will be only one."

The freeway has been closed between Buckeye Basin Greenbelt Parkway and Summit Street since Oct. 16, 2005, for assembly of the new bridge's North Toledo approach spans using prefabricated concrete segments. ODOT officials originally planned for the $220 million bridge to be built above live traffic, but scrapped that idea after a Feb. 16, 2004, crane collapse in East Toledo that killed four construction workers, injured four others, and dropped wreckage onto part of northbound I-280.

ODOT's current schedule calls for the Veterans' Glass City Skyway to open to traffic by midspring. Fru-Con Construction Co., the Ballwin, Mo., firm building the skyway, faces a fine of $20,000 a day for failure to finish the bridge by Dec. 23 under its contract with ODOT. That figure remains open to negotiation, ODOT officials say.

Because most spans directly above I-280 in East Toledo already were built when the crane collapse occurred, the freeway has remained open most of the time during the completion of the east-side approach viaduct. Only one span on the East Toledo end remains to be built - the northbound "No. 12" span that was next in line to be done by the crane that collapsed.

Two spans, on the northbound side and above Ontario Street, remain to be built in North Toledo. Late last month, ODOT estimated those spans will be completed Nov. 17, which would leave four days to move the truss crane used to assemble the spans off the bridge to reopen I-280 on Nov. 22.

If the span assembly runs past Nov. 17, the crane maneuver could be postponed until after Thanksgiving. That would require closing I-280 again after the holiday for a short time, ODOT project manager Mike Gramza said, but allow the freeway to reopen for the busy holiday weekend.

Work continues as well on the bridge's main, cable-stayed span over the Maumee River, where 14 of 20 stay cables have been installed and structural completion of the remaining section over the shipping channel is expected "right around the first of the year" unless there's a major weather issue, Ms. Voogd said.

Reopening I-280 through North Toledo will have one negative consequence for certain downtown Toledo commuters: the southbound I-280 entrance from northbound Summit Street, which reopened when I-280 closed, will be barricaded again because of inadequate distance for merging traffic.

Motorists headed to southbound I-280 from downtown will need to use the Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge, which is reduced to one lane each way for rehabilitation. Once the Skyway opens, access to the Craig Memorial Bridge will be reconfigured for its future use as a local bridge.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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