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Published: Friday, 2/22/2008

Crew to repave part of I-75 to fix plethora of potholes

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A state crew patches northbound I-75 yesterday between the Stickney-Lagrange interchange and Ottawa River Road. A state crew patches northbound I-75 yesterday between the Stickney-Lagrange interchange and Ottawa River Road.
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Two deer bounded across Glendale Avenue from Maumee Valley Country Day School on a recent night, one making the trip uneventfully, but the other stumbling on a pothole and visibly limping away onto Calvary Assembly of God church grounds.

Street conditions in Toledo are tough on everybody these days.

David Welch, the city's commissioner of streets, bridges, and harbor, said yesterday that officials are well aware of pothole problems not only on Glendale, but other busy streets like Douglas and Talmadge roads, and assigned all available manpower to pothole duty this week.

"Anybody who can throw cold patch is out on the road," Mr. Welch said, referring to the cold asphalt mix that repair crews normally use in winter to plug pavement holes temporarily.

On northbound I-75 near I-280 in North Toledo, the Ohio Department of Transportation's pothole problem has become bad enough that an extraordinary measure will be taken next week.

ODOT has arranged for a hot-mix asphalt plant to be fired up so an especially pothole-plagued stretch of roadway can be repaved, not just patched.

"We've been up there just about every day, and the holes are so big that cold patch just doesn't hold," Theresa Pollick, an ODOT spokesman in Bowling Green, said yesterday.

Ordinarily, hot paving mix isn't produced during the winter because cold weather isn't conducive to asphalt paving.

But Ms. Pollick said special arrangements have been made with Gerken Materials, which holds an I-75 resurfacing contract, to fire up its Waterville blacktop plant and make repairs that ODOT officials have decided can't wait until spring.

Napoleon-based Gerken began work on its $6,396,708 contract to resurface I-75 in North Toledo last fall, and completed a section between a railroad bridge just north of I-280 and the Ohio-Michigan border.

The rest of the project is scheduled for spring, but Ms. Pollick said the old pavement deteriorated so quickly this winter that emergency repairs became necessary.

"It became a question of how many [vehicle-damage] claims we were going to pay compared with the cost of doing the extra work," she said.

A state maintenance crew yesterday patched the I-75 holes with a patching mix, which Ms. Pollick said should last for at least the weekend.

Longer-term, but still interim, repairs will be made late next week if weather permits, she said, and will require closing two of four northbound lanes just north of the I-75/I-280 junction.

On the days the work is done, lane closings will occur between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., which is likely to cause traffic jams on both northbound I-75 and northbound I-280.

The roadway's top three inches will be ground off and replaced.

Ms. Pollick said the work will occur no sooner than Wednesday because hot paving mix won't be available before then.

Mr. Welch said the Gerken plant's temporary reopening will boost the city's pothole repair efforts too.

"Hot mix makes a tremendous difference on how long pothole repairs are going to last," he said.

Wednesday and yesterday, the streets commissioner said, city crews patched 3,600 potholes - nine times as many as normally would be fixed with regular manpower.

Forecasts for light snow overnight and today raised the possibility that further street repairs would be delayed while crews returned to snow and ice control, he said.

While Ms. Pollick said ODOT does not consider this winter to have been exceptionally hard on state-maintained roads, Mr. Welch said his staff has counted 58 freeze-thaw cycles in Toledo so far this winter, well above the 40 or so that typically occur by the last week of February.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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