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Published: 6/21/2007

20,000 expected at Veterans' Glass City Skyway bridge events

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
David Dysard, Ohio Department of Transportation s district deputy director, outlines the span s opening weekend events. David Dysard, Ohio Department of Transportation s district deputy director, outlines the span s opening weekend events.
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As many as 20,000 people are expected to attend Saturday when the Ohio Department of Transportation dedicates the Veterans Glass City Skyway carrying I-280 over the Maumee River.

How many of them will stick around Saturday night for a special showing of the bridge pylon s lighting system remains to be seen, but state officials aren t planning for any specific viewing locations other than the picnic area behind Fire Station 13 on Front Street.

You ll find your own spots along the river with a good view, David Dysard, ODOT s district deputy director in Bowling Green, said during a news conference yesterday to formally announce the schedule of events to celebrate the $237 million bridge s completion. He later cautioned that any such viewing spots will need to be legal ones.

The bridge will open to traffic at a still-undisclosed time during daylight hours on Sunday.

The opening time will depend on how quickly we can get the area cleared and final traffic markings placed, Mr. Dysard said.

A stage and safety barriers to be used on the bridge during the dedication are among the items that will have to be cleared after the ceremony.

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, U.S. Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio), and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) are among dignitaries who have committed to speak during the dedication, scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

The ceremony is to be followed at about noon by a four-mile road race and walk across the bridge, coordinated by the Toledo Roadrunners Club. At about 12:30 p.m., a motorized parade of veterans groups and labor unions will cross the span.

Except for participants in the Roadrunners event, for which a $25 registration fee is required, and those in the parade, everyone wishing to go onto the bridge will be required to ride a shuttle bus up and down its entrance ramps.

The [bridge s] railings and ramps are not set up to accommodate bicycle and pedestrian traffic, Mr. Dysard said.

We just didn t want to have the possibility of someone toppling over a railing, he said.

And while the ramps 4 percent grade is standard for motor traffic, it s pretty challenging for many pedestrians, he said.

You ll be able to walk about a half-mile across the bridge, including the entire span over the river from one end of the cables to the other, the deputy director said. We ve just saved you having to climb up a steep ramp to get there.

The registration fee for the Roadrunners walk and race will cover the costs of administering that event, its prizes and T-shirts, and refreshments.

Unspent money is to be donated to the fund for a planned monument to the project s construction workers, including five who died in two separate accidents.

Relatives of the dead workers have been invited to participate in the dedication ceremony, the program for which will include a tribute to the sacrifice they made, the ODOT deputy director said.

The bridge project s former casting yard on Front Street, near York Street, will be the primary boarding location for shuttle buses. Buses also will stop along Front for boarding by neighborhood residents.

Those who live in North Toledo near the bridge will be able to board buses at the Riverside YMCA near Bush and Summit streets.

Parking for the race/walk will be provided at the Toledo Sports Arena lot on Main Street.

For people with disabilities, parking will be available at the Glass City Marina on Front near Carbon Street and the former Toledo Edison Acme Generating Station. Handicap placards will be required for access to the marina lot.

Shuttle buses will start running to the bridge at 8 a.m. The last pickups at the parking lots will be at 2 p.m. and the last departures from the bridge deck will be at 3, Mr. Dysard said.

Mr. Dysard said the ODOT estimate of between 15,000 and 20,000 people attending the dedication was based on turnouts of 10,000 or more at similar dedications that were in more remote locations.

The pylon light show is scheduled to start at 9:30 p.m. and over the course of 90 minutes, an entire year s worth of color-light sequences will be shown.

Once the bridge opens to traffic, Mr. Dysard said, such shows will be impossible to implement because of the risk of distracting motorists and causing collisions.

The show will repeat continuously until sunrise Sunday, said Mike Gramza, ODOT s project manager for the bridge. There will be no music or fireworks.

Lane striping, barrier relocation, and other work needed to shift traffic from existing I-280 onto the new bridge will close the freeway through Toledo starting at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Through traffic will be detoured via State Rt. 795 and I-75, while local traffic will be allowed to use I-280 south of Navarre Avenue. The Craig Memorial Bridge will be open to local traffic only, until 10 a.m. Saturday southbound and until 4 p.m. Saturday northbound.

When those closings end on Sunday, I-280 traffic will begin using the new bridge.

Mr. Gramza said state officials probably will not announce an opening time until shortly before the opening occurs.

ODOT is doing nothing to assist motorists who may wish to wait nearby to try to be the first across the Veterans Glass City Skyway, he said, and if we have a line [forming], the State Highway Patrol will address that.

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



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