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Published: Thursday, 3/1/2007

Transfer site tops regional wish list

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Developing rail-truck terminals like this one in Toledo is identified by the Toledo Metropolitan
Area Council of Governments as a top priority for boosting the area s future economy.
Developing rail-truck terminals like this one in Toledo is identified by the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments as a top priority for boosting the area s future economy.
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In late 1988, a long-range transportation plan developed by the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments identified a new Maumee River bridge or tunnel as the top priority for Toledo's transportation future.

More than 18 years later, as the $220 million Veterans' Glass City Skyway project that will carry I-280 over the Maumee nears completion, the council of governments is seeking suggestions on its latest priority list for transportation improvements in Toledo.

"On the Move: 2007-2035 Transportation Plan" separately lists "committed" projects and "priority" projects.

The former represents projects for which at least some degree of preliminary planning has begun, and the latter addresses what the plan's architects believe should come next.

The plan's development began in January, 2005, and has included a series of public meetings since then.

Jeff Ballmer, the Sylvania service director who headed a TMACOG task force in charge of the plan, said now is the chance for the public to review the result of that process.

"We think we got it right, but this is a chance for everybody to put their seal of approval on it," Mr. Ballmer said.

Tops on the priority list is building a "Trans-Pacific Inland Port," a rail-truck transfer terminal that would be a regional focal point for warehousing and distribution of freight brought to the region by trains from Pacific Coast ports.

A separate "North Toledo Intermodal Terminal" also is listed among the top future priorities.

The inland port concept grew out of a rail-truck terminal proposed last year for Erie Township in Monroe County, a proposal that the private developer later withdrew in the face of mounting opposition, said Diane Reamer-Evans, the metropolitan council's transportation project manager. But the plan's version is "location neutral," she said.

"Freight issues and a desire to strengthen our region as a freight hub are a key concern for our region's future economic development," Ms. Evans said.

While such a facility is likely to be built by a private concern, she said, the task force of planners, government leaders, engineers, and other interested parties deemed it vital to recognize a likely need for public funds to improve road access and utilities - costs estimated at $10 million out of total exceeding $95 million.

The second project on the priority list is more traditional: widening I-75 from four lanes to six between Perrysburg and Findlay at a projected cost of $101 million.

Widening U.S. 20A between Maumee and Toledo Express Airport and U.S. 20/23 between Perrysburg and State Rt. 420 near Lemoyne also rates high on the list.

"Committed" projects include the $234.2 million Waterville-Napoleon section of the U.S. 24 "Fort to Port" highway, which is scheduled for construction next year, and the two phases of rebuilding the I-75/I-475 junction in central Toledo, which are scheduled to begin in 2009 and 2014.

Both of those projects were listed in the council's Year 2010 Transportation Plan, as were Ohio Turnpike interchanges at I-75 and Toledo Express that were completed during the early 1990s and a Maumee-Perrysburg bridge replacement finished in 2002.

Along with several big-ticket items, the "On the Move" plan's 82 listings include numerous smaller projects, such as traffic-signal modernization, trail and road improvements for bicyclists, and expanded public bus service.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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