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Published: Monday, 2/18/2008

60-day ramp shutdown looms in Northwood

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Contractors have begun work on new traffic signals at Curtice and Lemoyne roads in Northwood, the latest element of a project to improve that intersection and nearby I-280 interchanges to support a Menards home-improvement store opening in the summer.

But for the 5,800 motorists who enter northbound I-280 from Curtice on an average day, the worst is yet to come.

Starting in early April, the Curtice entrance will be closed for an estimated 60 days while it is rebuilt and widened.

"It's a disruption, unfortunately," Theresa Pollick, an Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman in Bowling Green, said Friday. "But we're doing our best to improve the roadways, and that means construction."

The I-280 exit to Curtice and a connector from nearby Woodville Road also will be closed, perhaps simultaneously with the Curtice entrance shutdown, Ms. Pollick said. But inconvenience from those closings will be relatively minor, because the exit ramp's Woodville Road branch will remain open, and Lemoyne or other nearby streets will be available as detour routes.

Not so for the Curtice entrance, whose closing will force motorists desiring to go north on I-280 to enter at Navarre Avenue or Walbridge Road instead.

ODOT plans to post a detour directing traffic west on Curtice to Wheeling Street, then north into Oregon to reach the Navarre interchange. That route will take motorists along a stretch of Wheeling that already is moderately congested, especially when nearby Cardinal Stritch High School lets out, and passes two hospitals.

State officials may post signs on Woodville, which is part of State Rt. 51, advising motorists traveling toward I-280 to use alternate routes like State Rt. 795 or Walbridge, Ms. Pollick said.

Paul Roman, Oregon's public service director, said it's too early to know how traffic on Wheeling will be affected by its use as a detour route. "The first day, there may be congestion, but a lot of times, [local motorists] find a new route that works best for them," Mr. Roman said.

"People familiar with the area will be able to get around," agreed Northwood police Capt. Thomas Cairl. He said the new store is worth the inconvenience and urged motorists to allow extra time for trips in the area during the ramp closing.

Those who use nearby Pickle or Brown roads in Oregon will have commuting complications soon. Starting late this month, work will begin on bridge-repair projects that will close Pickle first, then Brown, at I-280 for up to 90 days each.

Brown will be the detour for Pickle, and Pickle for Brown, Mr. Roman said.

"I don't think it will have too much of an impact, but it'll seem congested in there," he said.

Late next year, Mr. Roman added, a city project to widen Wheeling is scheduled to begin.

The interchange project began last fall with reconstruction of the southbound I-280 exit and entrance ramps at Curtice. Because of the southbound ramps' configuration, access between the freeway and Woodville Road was not affected.

Once the ramp work is done, Lemoyne will be closed for 300 feet south of Curtice for widening. All construction in the area is to be finished by September.

The total interchange and intersection project is contracted for $3,294,494. Menards is paying about $2.7 million.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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