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Published: Sunday, 6/22/2008

Veterans Glass City Skyway is a welcome change to our skyline


Was it only 52 weeks ago that the Veterans Glass City Skyway opened to traffic?

The unfinished business surrounding the mammoth bridge carrying I-280 over the Maumee River the idle freeway canyon beneath it in North Toledo, the unfinished landscaping, the now-excessive ramp networks at either end of the Craig Memorial Bridge confirm our calendars accuracy.

Yet memories of driving on the old I-280 already fade into a more distant past, perhaps wilfully, considering that the Craig and its approaches were not designed for the heavy trucks and traffic loads of today, and driving that roadway routinely ranked among Toledo s least pleasant motoring experiences.

Crossing the Skyway is a joy by comparison.

On a clear day the view to the northeast stretches well out into Lake Erie, and it is nearly impossible to avoid stealing glances out over that vast expanse even though traffic demands our attention. We may look up into the almost-parallel lines of the stay cables stainless-steel sheaths, resplendent in their metallic glory, or at the central pylon, rising more than 250 feet above the pavement to its pinnacle.

From more distant vantage points, the massive bridge s appearance changes with the time of day and year. From certain angles at certain times, the sun rises or sets from beyond its structure, casting it as a silhouette. As clouds pass and the sun transits the sky, shadows shift and light reflections from the cables wax and wane.

At night, the pylon s internal lighting system beckons from far away, a modern-day lighthouse welcoming road-weary Toledoans home while intrigued travelers catching their first gaze of it. In recent weeks, the cables, too, have been illuminated, giving nighttime shape to the entire structure that was previously lit only by the full moon.

The graceful cable-stayed bridge has taken its place in the Toledo skyline and is the signature structure its designers promised it would be. For most of us, it is still a novelty, because those memories from before its construction linger, but just as today s college undergraduates are unfamiliar with the days before personal computers, so too will there eventually be a Toledo for whom the Skyway has always been there.

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