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Published: Wednesday, 6/20/2007

Light show planned for overnight Saturday at new I-280 bridge

The first lighting of the Veterans Glass Skyway Bridge The first lighting of the Veterans Glass Skyway Bridge
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A light show will begin at 9:30 p.m. Saturday and continue throughout the night to mark the opening of the new Veterans' Glass City Skyway, officials announced this afternoon.

The Ohio Department of Transportation said the pylon lighting system show will include a year's worth of programming in 90-minute segments. Those segments will repeat throughout the night, ODOT said an an afternoon press conference.

No designated viewing area or traffic control is planned in conjunction with the lighting show.

ODOT leaders said they expect up to 20,000 people to attend a bridge dedication event, which is planned to begin Saturday morning.

One catch: you'll have to ride the bus to get there, unless you're participating in the race/walk afterward.

The vacant former Front Street casting yard, where 3,004 concrete structural segments for the bridge were made, will get a last hurrah as the primary parking lot for spectators who wish to attend the ceremony or simply take in the view from the $237 million bridge, which will not be open to pedestrians once it becomes an active part of I-280.

Exactly when the bridge will open to traffic remains to be announced. It will be "during the day sometime" on Sunday, said Andrea Voogd, an Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman, who added that state officials plan to do nothing to enable people to line up to cross the landmark structure immediately after its opening.

"We're going to discourage people from doing that," Ms. Voogd said.

For safety and security reasons, the spokesman said, anyone who wants to go up on the bridge Saturday will be required to board shuttle buses from the Front Street lot or at the Riverside YMCA, which will be the start and finish point for the four-mile bridge walk and road race.

Buses will begin running at 8 a.m., with the dedication ceremony to begin at 10:30 a.m.

Gov. Ted Strickland, ODOT Director James Beasley, and other federal, state, and local officials and union representatives are scheduled to speak.

Buses will stop accepting riders headed to the bridge at 2 p.m., and the last departure from the bridge will be about 4 p.m.

The only exceptions will be for registered participants in the walk and race, to be coordinated by the Toledo Road Runners Club. Registration will be at the YMCA and cost $25. Race/walk parking will be available at the Y and at the Sports Arena lot on Main Street.

Prizes will be awarded to top finishers in the race, which will start at noon. It will be followed at 12:30 p.m. by a motorized parade of veterans' organizations.

Parking will not be available at the Riverside Y, but buses will pick up people there as a convenience for race/walk participants and for those in North Toledo within walking distance of the bridge, Ms. Voogd said.

Similarly, buses running between the casting yard and the bridge will make several stops along Front Street for the benefit of neighborhood residents.

People boarding the buses will be checked by security screeners. Among prohibited items will be chairs, umbrellas, alcoholic beverages, thermal or glass containers, coolers, aerosol sprays, backpacks, packages, posters, signs, or placards, along with anything that could be construed as a weapon. Guide dogs or service dogs will be the only animals allowed on the bridge during the dedication.

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

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