When the Ohio Turnpike issued its first contracts in 1996 to add a third lane in each direction between Toledo and Youngstown, toll-road leaders expected the 160-mile program to take five years to complete and cost about $460 million.
Sometime this week, Kokosing Construction Co. of Columbus will start major work on the final piece, a 4.6-mile section between I-75 in Perrysburg and the U.S. 20, or Reynolds Road, interchange on the Toledo-Maumee border.
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Kokosing’s $33,475,924 contract, which it has until November, 2014, to fulfill, brings to about $687 million the actual construction cost for the third lane, with inflation presumably having contributed to the program’s cost as it stretched from that original five-year estimate to 19 construction seasons.
It will rank at times among the Toledo-area’s most disruptive new projects of the 2013 construction season for motorists, although lurking in the shadows is an Ohio Department of Transportation job that could claim that dubious honor uncontested, depending on which contractor submits the winning bid.
The wild-card project is the overhaul of the Anthony Wayne Bridge, and the uncertainty is whether it will close to all traffic this year or next for replacement of two approach spans and deck revamp on the rest of the bridge.
State transportation officials say some potential bidders said during prebid meetings that they would want to start that 19-month shutdown this year, while others’ likely schedules would put off the shutdown-related work until next year.
Bid opening is expected early this month.
There is no uncertainty about the turnpike’s plans, though: Kokosing already has started work on “off-turnpike areas,” said Doug Hedrick, the toll road’s chief engineer, whose turnpike career began in 1996.
“I have been here for the entire life of the project,” Mr. Hedrick said last week. “It has been a project to be proud of. … [It] has made the Ohio Turnpike one of the most efficient and safest interstate roads in the country.”
Like other turnpike widening projects, two lanes will be maintained each way for most of the work. But lane closings will be needed at the start while the shoulder is repaved to handle shifted traffic, and the left lane may be closed in either direction during off-peak hours while the new lanes are built in what is now the median.
While the turnpike’s Maumee River bridge was rebuilt with extra lanes in the middle, seven other bridges in the affected section will be widened, with various effects on the streets underneath five of them. The other two span railroad tracks.
Michigan Avenue in Maumee and White and Simmons roads in Perrysburg Township will be closed temporarily, while a single-lane zone will be set up on State Rt. 65, or River Road, in Perrysburg Township and lane closings will occur on Reynolds. Erection of steel will require traffic stops up to 30 minutes long during overnight hours.
For turnpike travelers, more persistent delays are likely from a repaving project in Fulton County that also starts this week. Gerken Paving Co. of Napoleon holds an $11,233,163.50 contract to repave 11.4 miles from milepost 27.5, just east of the Archbold interchange, to milepost 38.9, near the Delta interchange.
That work will be done in two phases, each covering about half the work area, that will restrict traffic to one lane each way from Tuesday through June 28 and then from Sept. 5 through late November.
The summertime work suspension will help motorists during the turnpike’s peak travel season, but long delays are likely when the work zone is in place, especially during the Memorial Day weekend.
Also in the toll road’s plans this year is the next phase of rebuilding the turnpike’s original pavement, a 5.7-mile section in Sandusky County straddling the Fremont interchange.
Starting Wednesday, traffic will be reduced to two lanes each way for Kokosing’s start of work on its $16,083,160.20 contract. The right and center westbound lanes will be closed, and one lane of westbound traffic will be crossed over to what is normally the eastbound right lane — a pattern identical to what was set up for an earlier phase immediately east of this one.
Other than the potential Anthony Wayne Bridge headache, the biggest orange-barrel problem within Toledo’s city limits this year has already started. The city’s reconstruction of Secor Road between Central Avenue and Monroe Street is causing heavy backups on both Secor and Central.
Big backups also have been reported on U.S. 23 in southern Monroe County, where the Michigan Department of Transportation has begun rebuilding the northbound lanes from Sterns Road to U.S. 223. Two-way traffic is set up on the southbound side.
For the state transportation agency, the biggest project in the region continues to be the I-475 reconstruction between I-75 and Rushland Avenue. But officials at the department’s district office in Bowling Green say that $64 million job, significantly delayed by rain during 2011, is on track for substantial completion by year’s end.
“There’s a lot to be done, but they’ve said they’re going to get it done,” Mike Gramza, ODOT’s district planning and engineering administrator, said referring to project contractor E.S. Wagner.
Ramp closings and crashes involving speeders, rather than backups, have proven to be the I-475 project’s main impacts on traffic.
Rehabilitation of the Alexis Road bridges over three railroads and Stickney Avenue in North Toledo should be done by November, and ODOT expects to finish work this year on two new Wales Road bridges over railroad tracks in Northwood too.
The westerly bridge, over CSX Transportation, has beams in place, while abutments are under construction for the bridge over Norfolk Southern’s main line through the Toledo area.
The biggest new projects on ODOT’s 2013 plan include repaving I-280 between Lemoyne Road in Lake Township and Navarre Road in Oregon. Mr. Gramza said traffic there is light enough that full-time lane closings will be allowed, reducing traffic to one lane through work zones.
Also coming up is rebuilding the twin I-475/U.S. 23 bridges over the Ohio Turnpike. But unlike the rebuilding in 2011 and 2012 of that freeway’s Maumee River spans, ODOT will keep two lanes open in each direction for most of the work by building lanes between the bridges, then using those new lanes as a bypass while rebuilding the existing structures.
Once that work is finished next year, the lanes will become extra-wide shoulders until I-475/U.S. 23 is widened to three lanes each way.
Two smaller ODOT projects will involve I-475 ramps in West Toledo, Sylvania Township, and Perrysburg.
In cooperation with Lucas County, the state plans to widen the Corey Road exit from eastbound I-475 and add turn lanes on Corey and Whiteford roads at Sylvania Avenue. The Talmadge Road exit from westbound I-475 in West Toledo, meanwhile, will be lengthened. It's all intended to eliminate traffic backups from the two ramps onto the I-475 mainline that are a particular problem during the Christmas shopping season.
On northbound State Rt. 25 in Perrysburg, ODOT plans to add a right-turn lane for traffic turning onto the southbound I-475 entrance ramp.
Separate from the ODOT project, the Lucas County Engineer's Office plans to repave Sylvania between Holland-Sylvania Road and the Corey/Whiteford intersection, fix the Sylvania bridge over the Ottawa River, and widen Sylvania between Holland-Sylvania and U.S. 23. The work will close the street for about two weeks this summer.
Contact David Patch at: email@example.com, or 419-724-6094.