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Tie-ups likely for upcoming I-475/U.S. 23 bridges project



Last year, it was the I-75 DiSalle Bridge over the Maumee River that was jammed up with construction for months. Now, it's I-475's turn.

A $4.9 million rehabilitation for the twin I-475/U.S. 23 bridges over the Maumee near Sidecut Metropark likely will be the most disruptive of new projects the Ohio Department of Transportation has planned in the Toledo area for the 2011 construction season, state officials said Wednesday.

Starting in August, work will require single-lane traffic in both directions across the river and shut off the U.S. 24 entrances to the freeway's southbound lanes until early November. Work will be suspended for the winter, resume with the second bridge's overhaul in about a year, and end in early Summer, 2012.

Todd Audet, the deputy director for ODOT's district office in Bowling Green, said his own commute to work will be among those affected by the ramp detour.

"I'm as not-excited as anybody else is to have this, but it's a necessary project," Mr. Audet said.

The project has been scheduled so that new ramps at the Salisbury-Dussel interchange to the north will all have been finished before the U.S. 24 ramps are closed, he said. The I-475/U.S. 23 work, in turn, is to be done before the new U.S. 24 expressway between Waterville and Napoleon opens next summer.

Finishing the Salisbury-Dussel interchange reconstruction that began two years ago is another part of ODOT's 2011 program in its eight-county District 2, as is ongoing replacement of the Wheeling Street bridge over I-280 in Oregon.

The $64 million I-475 reconstruction in West Toledo that began last year will continue through the entire 2011 construction season too, with completion expected in 2013.

That means motorists traveling between Michigan and points south of Toledo on U.S. 23 during the bridge project will have to choose which of the two I-475 work zones they want to brave, although Mr. Charvat noted that congestion so far has not been a big problem with the West Toledo work.

Department officials plan to announce the balance of road work planned this year in Lucas, Fulton, Williams, Henry, Wood, Ottawa, Seneca, and Sandusky counties during a news conference tomorrow afternoon near the Salisbury-Dussel site in Maumee.

The I-475/U.S. 23 bridge project will include removing the top 1¼ inches of concrete deck, patching the concrete below that as needed, and then overlaying a new surface. Contractor Miller Brothers Construction also will replace parapet walls, repair expansion joints, and build new approach slabs, said Dennis Charvat, ODOT's acting district construction engineer.

Mr. Charvat said he did not know which of the two parallel freeway bridges will be overhauled first — that will be up to the contractor. Two-way traffic, separated by concrete barriers, will be set up on one of the bridges while the other is overhauled.

No work is planned for the U.S. 24 ramps themselves, but their merge point with the freeway mainline is so close to the southbound bridge that they can't be kept open during either phase of construction, the ODOT engineer said.

"There's no safe way" to maintain access even from westbound U.S. 24, because of the way the ramps are laid out, he said.

All exits from I-475 to U.S. 24 will remain open, as will the northbound entrances from U.S. 24 — the latter will be part of the posted detour route up to the Salisbury-Dussel interchange and then back south.

Drivers in Maumee may save a little mileage, if not time, by using the Maumee-Perrsyburg Bridge and State Rt. 25 to reach southbound I-475/U.S. 23, instead of backtracking north during the work.

But finding alternate ways to get on southbound I-475 should be familiar to Maumee drivers, since they also had to do it for several months last year while the U.S. 24 bridges over the freeway were re-decked.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.

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