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Anthony Wayne Bridge to close 2 years for repairs, likely in 2013


The 81-year-old structure over the Maumee River is to undergo a $50 million overhaul. It is the last suspension bridge on Ohio’s state highway network.


Toledo’s Anthony Wayne Bridge will be closed to all traffic for two years, likely to start sometime in 2013, as part of a three-year, $50 million overhaul of the 81-year-old structure by the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The fundamental main-span appearance of the bridge — which carries State Rts. 2, 51, and 65 over the Maumee River and is the last suspension bridge on Ohio’s state highway network — will not change. The first approach span on either side of the suspension spans will be completely replaced during the project with new two-span structures.

Deck replacement on all the other spans is planned, along with joint improvements, cable repairs, and corrosion removal on the bridge’s steel girders, said Theresa Pollick, a department spokesman in Bowling Green. A separate painting contract will be issued after all structural and deck work is done.

The shutdown will be required because of the complete replacement of the two approach spans, Ms. Pollick said.

The spans to be replaced, which have deck-truss designs, are “fracture critical,” meaning that if certain parts of their structures were to break, they lack the backups necessary to prevent a collapse.

“The closure duration is necessary for the amount of work we must do and for the safety of those who travel the bridge during construction,” said Todd Audet, the transportation department’s district deputy director.

RELATED CONTENT: Read David Patch's Road Warrior blog

As the last suspension bridge on the state system, he said, “it’s important to ODOT to preserve it.”

The Anthony Wayne Bridge — also known locally as the High Level Bridge — gained its distinctive status on Feb. 22 when the transportation agency dynamited the Fort Steuben Bridge over the Ohio River between Steubenville, Ohio, and Weirton, W.Va. No other suspension bridges still standing in Ohio, or across the Ohio River, are part of the state system, the agency said.

The Anthony Wayne bridge last underwent major repairs in 1997 and 1998, when its concrete deck was resurfaced, some steel suspender cables were replaced, its main suspension cables were wrapped with weatherproofing material, and other repairs were made.

That work reduced traffic to one lane each way for most of two construction seasons, and it was closed for eight days at a time for each of two major concrete deck pours.

Toledo City Councilman Mike Craig, who represents East Toledo, recalled long backups on the Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge during that work 15 years ago and expressed hope that they won’t recur this time.

“That was huge. You couldn’t get through the intersection at Front and Main,” Mr. Craig said. “It is going to be very tough. I really hope that we can get some detours. I hope to get people to use the south-end [DiSalle] bridge, or the Craig Memorial Bridge, which is underutilized.”

The transportation department plans to detour Routes 2, 51, and 65 to the DiSalle Bridge, carries I-75 over the Maumee River.

Traffic pressure on the King Bridge should be relieved by the availability of both the Craig Bridge and the I-280 Veterans’ Glass City Skyway. In 1997 and 1998, the Craig still carried I-280 and also had lane closings for repairs; the Skyway opened in 2007.

But the availability of alternative routes offered little consolation last week to Don Monroe, a longtime East Toledo businessman and community promoter, who said the city should be pushing the transportation agency to find a way to keep the Anthony Wayne bridge open to traffic during its remodeling — perhaps by replacing the problem spans one half at a time.

“I always thought East Toledo should become a separate city,” Mr. Monroe said Friday. “We are treated like a red-headed stepchild. There’s got to be a way to maintain traffic, but you’ve got to have the right people lobbying.”

He said businesses on Woodville Road, especially, will be hurt by the bridge closing, just as restaurants at The Docks and on Main Street merchants were devastated by five years of construction last decade on the King.

A bridge-preservation Web site questioned replacing the deck-truss spans. Historicbridges.orgsaid that if replacing those spans is the only way to preserve the bridge, then it should be done, but it argued that the trusses “look to be in decent shape,” with rust and section loss confined to corners and edges where they should be repairable.

“Located directly next to the suspension spans, the deck truss approach spans not only have a major impact on the appearance of the bridge, they are the most historically and technologically significant spans on the bridge aside from the suspended spans,” the organization wrote. “Removal of the deck truss spans will have a dramatic negative effect on the historic integrity of the bridge, reducing the bridge’s historic integrity from excellent to perhaps merely fair.”

Ms. Pollick said the only “significant changes” would be two new piers, one on each side of the river, in the middle of the space that the truss sections now span. The construction schedule, she said, “is dependent on ordering the steel for the new bridge spans and tops of the new piers.”

In the meantime, she said, the department has installed an “active cable-monitoring system to listen for cable breaks in the suspension wires” — a system that is common along the East Coast, where many suspension bridges are in service.

The bridge work will require brief closings of streets that pass underneath, including Miami, Utah, Yondota, Ottawa, Morris, and Hall streets and Boers-Boyer Way, while the deck overhead is removed, Ms. Pollick said.

The overhaul is intended to last for 50 years, she said.

Contact David Patch at: or 419-724-6094.

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