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BOWLING GREEN - If you use the Woodville-Curtice entrance ramp to northbound I-280 in Northwood on a regular basis, the 2008 construction season is one you'll remember.
If you travel Monroe Street in eastern Sylvania Township, or Central Avenue between Jackman Road and Detroit Avenue, start thinking about other ways you might get where you're going.
But for the most part, the Ohio Department of Transportation's 2008 construction program will have a fairly modest impact on motorists in the state's eight northwestern-most counties.
The big-ticket item on the $118 million plan that ODOT announced yesterday for Lucas, Wood, Fulton, Henry, Williams, Sandusky, Seneca, and Ottawa counties is the $47.9 million contract the state awarded last week for the first stage of a new U.S. 24 east of Napoleon, between that city's existing bypass and Henry County Road 4A.
Like most new-road projects, the new U.S. 24 will cause minimal traffic disruptions compared with, say, a bridge-replacement project costing less than half as much along an active freeway.
While construction will begin next month, the first phase's biggest traffic impact will occur late in the project, when State Rt. 109 will be closed for about 21 days where it crosses the new highway. Construction of the remaining two phases east to Waterville is to begin next year.
"It's been a long time coming, so it's really exciting to get that [U.S. 24] off the ground," Theresa Pollick, a spokesman for ODOT's district office in Bowling Green, said following a news conference yesterday during which district officials summarized this year's construction plans.
"But overall, it's really not going to be too bad as far as impeding [traffic]."
Several of the more disruptive projects are under way, including I-75 resurfacing in North Toledo and reconstruction of the Curtice Road interchange on I-280 in Northwood. The former will include two weekend shutdowns of southbound I-75 at I-280. The dates have yet to be announced.
The latter will include a 150-day closing of the Curtice entrance to northbound
I-280, which also remains to be scheduled.
Mike Gramza, ODOT's district construction engineer, said the northbound entrance closing will last months longer than the closing of the southbound entrance there took last fall because the upcoming work involves building a substantial retaining wall.
A resurfacing project on Monroe Street, west of Talmadge Road, will start Sunday night and, even though most work will be done at night, traffic will remain restricted to one lane each way during daytime hours, Mr. Gramza said.
Next month, I-75 resurfacing in southern Wood County will require nighttime lane and ramp closings between North Baltimore and Cygnet.
The year's other big detour will arise sometime in July after ODOT awards a contract to replace three bridges that span I-75 or I-475 in West Toledo in anticipation of future interchange reconstruction where those freeways join.
First to be replaced is the Central Avenue bridge over I-75 between Jeep Parkway and North Cove Boulevard. State officials yesterday offered no start date or duration for Central's closing, but it's likely to be a big headache for about 12,000 vehicles that use the bridge daily, including numerous Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority buses that use it to get to or from the authority's maintenance garage.
The Douglas Road and Auburn Avenue bridges will be replaced after Central is finished. ODOT expects the work to cost $18.6 million and be finished by November, 2010.
Other projects on this year's ODOT list include:
•Pavement reconstruction of two sections of State Rt. 101, one immediately northeast of Tiffin and the other just south of Clyde, for $1.93 million.
•Four culvert replacements on U.S. 20A in Fulton and Williams counties, requiring detours of from three days to a month and costing $770,000.
•Overpass construction on Glenwood Avenue in Napoleon to eliminate an intersection with U.S. 24, costing $2.7 million.
•Repairs and resurfacing on State Rt. 19 between Green Springs and Republic, costing $3.75 million.
A $20.5 million widening project on U.S. 20, west of Woodville, that began last year will continue.
The $118 million to be spent throughout the Bowling Green district this year includes $94.4 million in direct ODOT spending plus $23.6 million in state funds distributed to local and county road agencies.
Statewide, ODOT's construction budget this year is a record $1.6 billion, though David Dysard, ODOT's deputy director for its Bowling Green district office, emphasized during the news conference that skyrocketing costs for fuel, asphalt, concrete, and steel have eroded the department's buying power by more than 40 percent in just four years.
"It's not going nearly as far as it used to, at all," Mr. Dysard said.
ODOT revenue is, at best, flat because the motor-fuel tax, its primary income source, is assessed on a per-gallon basis, not as a percentage of the price motorists pay. "We get so much per gallon no matter what you pay for it," he said.
When motorists respond to higher prices by cutting their driving or switching to more economical vehicles, gas-tax revenue declines, he added.
ODOT has increased its cost estimates for its various projects to anticipate higher materials costs, Mr. Dysard said, so the $226.5 million estimate to build the new U.S. 24 between Waterville and Napoleon is believed to be accurate.
The winning bid for the phase awarded last week came in nearly $8.4 million, or 15 percent, below the state's revised estimate.
Contact David Patch at: