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Published: Friday, 7/22/2011

Chain of ramp openings to change traffic patterns

Shelly Co. employees apply asphalt to the entrance ramp from Salisbury Road onto I-475/U.S. 23 as part of the final preparations for the new interchange to open. The entire project wraps up in November. Shelly Co. employees apply asphalt to the entrance ramp from Salisbury Road onto I-475/U.S. 23 as part of the final preparations for the new interchange to open. The entire project wraps up in November.
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The $24.3 million I-475/U.S. 23 interchange expansion at Salisbury Road and Dussel Drive will enter its homestretch this weekend with a sequence of ramp changes and traffic shifts that begins early this morning.

Starting at 3 a.m., the entrance to the freeway's southbound lanes will be closed so the project's last new ramp, leading from eastbound Salisbury to the southbound freeway, can be completed.

Miller Brothers Construction will have 75 hours to dig out part of the old ramp and finish the new one before its scheduled opening at 6 a.m. Monday.

"It's not going to be around-the-clock, but there will be some seriously long days. As it draws closer to Monday morning, it might be even longer delays," said Phil Senn, an Ohio Department of Transportation engineer on the project.

But the Salisbury ramp closing will affect only eastbound traffic, because a new loop ramp from westbound Salisbury onto the southbound freeway opens at 3 a.m. Friday.

Another new loop ramp, for eastbound traffic entering northbound I-475/U.S. 23, is scheduled to open by 6 a.m. Monday.

During the course of the weekend, eastbound motorists on Salisbury and Dussel will be shifted over to their proper side of the roadway, with traffic in both directions using what will become the right lane until construction is finished later this year.

The road is Salisbury in Monclova Township, and Dussel in Maumee.

Theresa Pollick, the ODOT spokesman for the Bowling Green district office, said commuters who use the Salisbury/Dussel interchange regularly should take a good look around this morning, because they may not recognize it on Monday.

"Once people get used to the patterns, it's going to be very efficient in there," she said.

But several months of work will remain after the ramp changes and traffic shifts this weekend.

A low-level divider to separate the eastbound and westbound lanes between the freeway and Osage Drive in Maumee is still to be built.

The median divider will eliminate left turns on that portion of Dussel, except at intersections with stoplights.

Elsewhere in the work zone, which stretches west to Manley Road in Monclova Township, the middle of the roadway must be joined together after having been built in separate halves during the three-year project's earlier stages.

"Things should greatly improve," Ms. Pollick said. "No left turns, less traffic signals, means better traffic. Despite the fact it will still be one lane each way, it should flow much better."

There are also street lights to be installed, signs to be erected, and a final course of pavement on everything when the project is finished.

ODOT officials said motorists will know the project is approaching completion in November when the new traffic signal at Salisbury and Manley is installed.

"It'd be nice to be done sooner than that, but I'm making no promises yet," Mr. Senn said.

Whenever it arrives, the project's completion will be welcomed by merchants along Dussel, whose customers have had to deal with three seasons of dust and detours.

But Mike Palazzo, the manager at Mancy's Bluewater Grille, said that except for one week when the restaurant's driveways were torn up, "it really hasn't been that bad."

Traffic backups mainly occurred during a short time at the rush hours, Mr. Palazzo said.

"If people want to come to our restaurant, they're going to come here regardless," he said.

"It's been a little hectic at times, but not bad," said Tom King, a Maumee fire prevention inspector based at Station No. 2 on Dussel.

There haven't been very many crashes in the construction zone, Mr. King said, and crews responding to calls elsewhere simply avoided the area when they could.

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

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