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Published: Wednesday, 3/3/2004

Initial work starts on Wooster St. widening

BOWLING GREEN - Preparatory work has begun for a $6 million project to widen East Wooster Street, with lane closings scheduled to start early next month, a state spokesman said yesterday.

By the end of this year, East Wooster is scheduled to have five lanes between Mercer Road and I-75, and its three lanes west of Mercer are to be rebuilt and widened to standard 12-foot width between July 8 and August, 2005.

The Ohio Department of Transportation has scheduled a public meeting tomorrow evening for business people and other interested parties to ask questions and comment on the project, which is likely to cause traffic congestion in the area while it is under way.

The session is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in the banquet room of the Woodland Towne Centre, 1234 North Main St.

Among those concerned about the project are officials at Bowling Green State University, whose campus borders East Wooster to the south.

“This could potentially be a real problem for the institution,” university President Sidney Ribeau said during a board of trustees committee meeting yesterday, during which the project came up for discussion.

Joe Rutherford, an ODOT spokesman, said work on the stretch between Mercer and the CSX Transportation railroad tracks is scheduled to start this summer precisely to minimize the impact on the university. Several campus roads will be blocked for about a month while Wooster s westbound lane bordering BGSU is rebuilt, but that will be timed to coincide with the summer break, Mr. Rutherford said.

Otherwise, most of this year s work will occur between Mercer and the freeway. Traffic will be reduced to a single lane each way for most of the year, with flag zones set up at times as well, and special lanes for left and right turns will not be available.

“People making left turns are going to stop traffic behind them,” Mr. Rutherford conceded. Queues at traffic signals may be longer too, because right-turning vehicles will have to wait for green lights when drivers who aren t turning are ahead of them.

Wooster provides the most direct route between I-75, BGSU, and downtown Bowling Green. Kokosing Construction Co., of Fredericktown, Ohio, holds the state contract for the work, and this week is starting site surveys, tree removal, and other preparatory work.

Motorists who use Wooster to travel between I-75 and the downtown area should consider using either U.S. 6 or State Rt. 582 and State Rt. 25 instead, the spokesman said.

The toughest phase of construction for the restaurants, filling stations, and other businesses that line Wooster just west of I-75 will be the first three months, Mr. Rutherford said, because that is when the south side of the road will be rebuilt and widened.

Driveway access will be maintained, but conditions are likely to be rough.

If Kokosing can stay on schedule, a phase change will coincide with the July 4 weekend, which will allow all constructed lanes to be open during the holiday.



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