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Published: Monday, 12/24/2012

Upgrades planned at 2 ramps on I-475 to ease backups

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
During peak times, traffic exiting eastbound I-475 at Corey Road backs up onto the freeway. During peak times, traffic exiting eastbound I-475 at Corey Road backs up onto the freeway.
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Holiday shoppers stuck in backed-up traffic on two I-475 exit ramps near Westfield Franklin Park this weekend can take this bit of solace: It probably won't be as jammed next year.

The Ohio Department of Transportation has developed plans to widen the Corey Road exit ramp from eastbound I-475 and lengthen the westbound exit to Talmadge Road next fall, with a main goal of keeping backups from spilling out onto the freeway’s right lane at either site.

A traffic signal is to be installed at the top of the Corey exit ramp, and Corey and Whiteford roads will be widened at Sylvania Avenue, adding a through lane both northbound and southbound at the Sylvania intersection, department officials said last week.

The project is expected to cost between $1 million and $2 million, covered by the transportation department’s statewide safety program. Todd Audet, district deputy director at the department’s Bowling Green office, said a contract is likely to be awarded in June, with a completion deadline in November.

Keith Earley, Lucas County engineer, said of the work planned for the Corey/I-475 area, which straddles the Toledo-Syvlania Township border: “I think the public will find that to be a very good improvement.”

Under the plan, no lanes will be added at the Talmadge exit, but it will be lengthened to provide more vehicle “storage” between I-475 and its traffic signal at Talmadge.

According to traffic counts from a consultant's study this year, 5,523 vehicles use the Corey exit from eastbound I-475 on a typical day, and 5,308 motorists enter the westbound lanes there. Corey has no westbound exit or eastbound entrance.

Mr. Audet said the single lane on the Corey exit ramp will be replaced by dedicated left-turn and right-turn lanes, and the traffic light at the top, replacing a stop sign, also is expected to reduce ramp-traffic backups.

“Our long-term solution for that location is a roundabout, but that would require widening the bridge” that carries Corey over I-475, Mr. Audet said. “We could still do the roundabout in the future.”

North of the freeway, northbound Corey will fan out to four lanes instead of the current three, with the additional through lane allowing more traffic to get across Sylvania on each green light. North of the Sylvania/Corey/Whiteford intersection, one of the two through lanes will merge in while a left-turn-lane starts for northbound Corey.

On the southbound side, Whiteford will get a second through lane, with the right lane south of the Sylvania intersection becoming a dedicated right-turn lane for the westbound I-475 entrance ramp.

Mr. Earley said some drivers use other exits because of delays at the Corey ramp.

“A lot of people avoid that because it’ so difficult there,” he said, noting that the new ramp signal will be coordinated with the lights at Sylvania Avenue to keep traffic moving.

Along with lengthening the Talmadge exit ramp, used by about 13,000 vehicles daily, the department plans to change the use of the ramp’s center lane at its intersection with Talmadge. Now marked for turns in either direction, that lane will become right-turn-only to handle the heavier traffic that turns toward the mall.

“We certainly are glad, as there continues to be development on the western edge of the city and moving into the western part of the county, that they are looking at some changes and improvements to the traffic flow and infrastructure,” said Jen Sorgenfrei, a spokesman for Toledo Mayor Mike Bell.

“It’s going to be a lot easier for people to access businesses, to get around that part of town.”

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



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