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Published: Wednesday, 1/30/2013

Neighbors near I-75 consider city’s plan for traffic changes

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

When Tom Cook sits on his porch near the Phillips Avenue interchange on I-75, it’s not unusual to hear the telltale sheet-metal thud and breaking glass that indicate yet another traffic accident at the nearby Thousand Islands intersections or any of several other busy corners nearby.

The possibility that one or more modern roundabouts might be in the neighborhood’s future, as explained during a city traffic-planning meeting Tuesday night at Rosa Parks Elementary School, is a prospect he welcomes.

“It’s an excellent idea. I’m all for that,” said Mr. Cook.

He was one of several dozen who heard brief presentations from three public agencies before perusing exhibits about what the future may hold for city streets near the I-75 interchanges at Jeep and Willys parkways, Berdan Avenue, and Phillips Avenue.

The Ohio Department of Transportation’s plans are firm, if not yet scheduled: The two Berdan ramps will close and Jeep/Willys access to I-475 will be eliminated during an upcoming, $160 million I-75 reconstruction and widening between I-475 and Phillips.

Managing traffic diverted to the Phillips interchange by the ramp closings is one key to the city’s planning.

The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, meanwhile, plans to break ground this spring on the first new roadway and “spec” warehouse on 111 acres of the former Jeep assembly plant that it wants to redevelop as the Overland Industrial Park.

Still to be decided is the Toledo Division of Engineering Services’ plan to manage shifting traffic patterns caused by those projects — and that was the point of the Tuesday meeting.

“We can work together as a team and try to figure out what we’re going to do,” said David Dysard, the administrator of public service at the engineering services division.

The Thousand Islands intersections, where Cherry Street, Collingwood and Manhattan boulevards, and Detroit and Berdan avenues cross or connect, are among the most confusing parts of Toledo’s streets network.

Andrew Langenderfer, a senior project manager with Tetra Tech, said converting one or more of those intersections to roundabouts should cut vehicle speeds, reduce serious accidents, and provide locations in the center islands for statues or other public displays.

“When we do an improvement, there’s a great opportunity to make it look nice, to make it a gateway to the community,” said Mr. Langenderfer, whose company is consulting for the city.

Rhonda Cole, a resident of the Olde Towne neighborhood between the Old West End and Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, agreed that traffic at the Thousand Islands is chaotic.

But she was skeptical about the roundabout idea.

“I’m going to go out to King and Nebraska to see if it’s confusing,” Ms. Cole said, citing an example of recent roundabout construction in Springfield Township.

Marjie Blood, a West Toledo resident who remains somewhat displeased with plans to close Willys Parkway between Hillcrest Avenue and I-75 to eliminate cut-through traffic, however, called the roundabout idea “a great solution.”

Meanwhile, Terry Glazer, president of neighborhood development group United North, said he was mainly concerned with how a possible reopening of Manhattan to through traffic west of Phillips would affect residents there, and whether special landscaping would fall into neglect during lean budget years.

Mr. Langenderfer said Tetra Tech plans to hold another public meeting in April to present proposals based on its study of the area, including community input.

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



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