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Published: Friday, 9/21/2007

All lanes of Veterans' Glass City Skyway likely to be open next month

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Ironworkers employed by Freyssinet LLC work on some of the last remaining projects on the $237 million I-280 bridge that was dedicated three months ago Sunday and was opened to traffic the following day. Ironworkers employed by Freyssinet LLC work on some of the last remaining projects on the $237 million I-280 bridge that was dedicated three months ago Sunday and was opened to traffic the following day.
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Andy Butler's association with the Veterans' Glass City Skyway began more than four years ago, when the ironworker from West Toledo was part of the crew that knitted webs of reinforcing steel rods for the foundation of the bridge's 400-foot main pylon.

Now, he's one of the last of the hundreds of local tradesmen once employed on the $237 million I-280 project still working there, helping put finishing touches on the landmark structure that was dedicated three months ago Sunday and was opened to traffic the following day.

Since the opening, the left lanes have remained closed in both directions while stay cables with defective epoxy coatings were replaced.

Northbound traffic also had to dodge an unfinished area at the North Toledo abutment that couldn't be filled in until old I-280 underneath the approach viaduct there was permanently closed.

But both of those tasks are finished, and the Ohio Department of Transportation estimates the third lane will open to traffic in each direction by mid-October, with only short-term, single-lane closings needed after that.

"We're going to try to get the road opened up as soon as we can," Mike Gramza, the transportation department's project manager, said yesterday.

Taking a break from installing expansion covers on the stainless-steel sheathing that protects the bridge's stay cables, Mr. Butler expressed satisfaction with his role in the largest project in ODOT history, but little nostalgia about the project's rapidly approaching conclusion.

"It's something to be proud of," he said. "But I'm just looking forward to going somewhere else, doing some more work."

This week, inspections of the approach spans' undersides using overhanging-bucket "snooper" trucks have occasionally reduced traffic across the bridge to a single lane and have required occasional ramp closings, too.

Similar inspections of the main span are likely to be done in the spring, Mr. Gramza said.

Besides putting the expansion covers on the stay cables, workers must install dampers at the bases of each of the Skyway's 20 stays, then close several gaps in its median barrier walls that have been left open for construction access.

The dampers resemble big shock absorbers, and serve to keep the stays from vibrating harmonically under certain weather conditions, the ODOT manager said.

Once the work on the stays and medians has been completed and the left lanes are open, some short-term right-lane closings may be required during streetlight installation across the main span.

That installation was delayed out of concern that trucks using the shoulder as the right lane during the stay work might hit the lights.

Ohio Department of Transportation employees Matt Beedy, left, and Todd Bender inspect a portion of the underside of the span. Ohio Department of Transportation employees Matt Beedy, left, and Todd Bender inspect a portion of the underside of the span.
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Motorists also may encounter some lane closings elsewhere on I-280 between I-75 and Navarre Avenue this fall after a landscaping firm starts work on an ODOT contract to plant wild grasses and shrubs along the stretch of freeway that was widened in conjunction with the bridge project.

Big Trees Inc. of Columbia Station, Ohio, could begin work as early as next week on its $1,654,566.07 landscaping contract, Mr. Gramza said.

The firm will be allowed two years to complete the plantings because certain plants need to be planted in sequence and at specific times of year, while a third year will be for warranty work, he said.

"It will take several years for everything to grow in, but it will still look good right away," Mr. Gramza said.

"We had thought the work wouldn't really get started until spring, but [Big Trees] wants to get going right away, get started, and do as much as he can this fall."

A separate ODOT contract, still to be awarded, will cover landscaping vacated portions of the former I-280 right-of-way beneath the bridge in North Toledo and East Toledo.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.


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