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Published: Sunday, 6/17/2007

ODOT officials say it should be several decades before the new bridge requires significant work

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Wade Bonzon of Figg Bridge Engineering, which designed the Skyway, checks out the top of the pylon. When maintenance crews go to the top, the elevator ride will take seven minutes. Wade Bonzon of Figg Bridge Engineering, which designed the Skyway, checks out the top of the pylon. When maintenance crews go to the top, the elevator ride will take seven minutes.
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The Veterans Glass City Skyway s main pylon sports thousands of light-emitting diodes behind its inlaid, frosted-glass panels, bears the load from the span s 20 stay cables, and is home to what may be the four slowest elevators in the city.

That it takes about seven minutes for the elevators, tucked into recesses behind those glass panels, to rise 270 feet to the pylon s top will be relevant only to a select few: the bridge inspectors and maintenance workers who will make sure the 400-foot tower s lights stay lit, its glass is kept clean, and birds aren t getting inside.

"I don t think it s going to be very often probably once a year at most" that workers will need to climb into the elevators and ride to the top, said Wade Bonzon, a field engineer for an affiliate of Figg Bridge Engineers, which designed the bridge.

Most pylon maintenance will be done from inside, but the tower has retractable davits for use by window washers to clean the glass panels from time to time. And atop the pylon, a narrow ladder accessible from an internal platform leads to a lightning rod at the very tip.

At a minimum, the bridge will need annual inspections, Ohio Department of Transportation officials said. But beyond routine sweeping, cleaning, and winter snow and ice control, it should be several decades before Toledo s big new bridge needs any significant maintenance, they said.

The pylon of the Skyway is lined with light-emitting diodes, such as this one, that will illuminate the portion of the bridge that rises 400 feet into the sky. The LEDs are capable of producing 16.7 million color combinations. 
The pylon of the Skyway is lined with light-emitting diodes, such as this one, that will illuminate the portion of the bridge that rises 400 feet into the sky. The LEDs are capable of producing 16.7 million color combinations.
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"We don t expect maintenance like deck patching to start for some time," said Layth Istefan, the district highway management administrator for ODOT.

Mr. Istefan s boss, district Deputy Director David Dysard, said the driving surface is expected to last 30 years, and at that point it can be ground down to restore a smooth ride.

"It s designed to last a good long while before it needs any messing with it," Mr. Dysard said. "We have an extra inch we can grind off before any overlay is needed."

Everything else on the bridge is designed to last, too. The LEDs that will light up the pylon have 22-year projected lifespans, as do the LED lights atop the tower to warn aviators of its height. Stay cables, coated in plastic, are supposed to last a century, and ODOT officials said they have no precise forecast for how long the structural concrete will last.

"Has anybody been to Europe and seen the Roman aqueducts?" Mr. Dysard said.

David Dysard, district deputy director for ODOT, says the
driving surface is expected to last 30 years. At that point it can be ground down to restore a smooth ride. David Dysard, district deputy director for ODOT, says the driving surface is expected to last 30 years. At that point it can be ground down to restore a smooth ride.
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While conceding those relics of the ancient world were made of stone, Mr. Dysard continued: "Concrete, if maintained properly and with no catastrophic events, should last a very long time. We re not sure how long it will last, [but it should be] hundreds and hundreds of years."

The Skyway s concrete should last longer than that of other bridges in the area because it is especially dense and impermeable, meaning salty water from winter snow and ice shouldn t seep through to its reinforcing steel, said Mike Gramza, the ODOT project manager.

Rainwater and melting snow or ice from the main span will drain through scuppers into the river below, while drains on the approach spans over land will feed into collection ponds.

The bridge s routine care will be assigned to ODOT s freeway-maintenance "outpost" in Northwood, Mr. Istefan said. From that garage s staff is likely to be formed a "bridge team" that will have primary responsibility for maintaining the Skyway and the parallel Craig Memorial Bridge, he said.

The Craig, which now carries I-280 over the Maumee River, will become part of State Rt. 65 after I-280 is routed over the new bridge and will remain an ODOT facility.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.

Glass City Skyway construction (Updated)

Glass City Skyway celebration

Glass City Skyway animation

ODOT web cams at Glass City Skyway.

ARCHIVES

READ: Toledo polishes Skyway with gala celebration (May 25, 2007)

READ: Bridge worker dies in fall (April 20, 2007)

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