City plans to shut Secor Rd. interchanges in early June

10-day action to rev rebuild, avert hazards

5/21/2013
BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Secor Road’s interchange ramps at I-475 will close for 10 days during early June under a Toledo plan to rebuild Secor as quickly as possible through the two ramp intersections while avoiding traffic backups onto the freeway, city officials said on Monday.

Keeping the four ramps open while Secor is rebuilt through the area could cause traffic to back up dangerously onto the freeway, congestion that would worsen when large trucks try to navigate turns in the work zone, said Robin Whitney, Toledo’s commissioner of engineering services.

During the shutdown, set to start on June 4, contractor Geddis Paving will have crews on site for “20-hour days — they’ll be working pretty much nonstop,” Ms. Whitney said.

Secor will remain open, albeit with just one lane of traffic in each direction, as has been the case with its current reconstruction south of I-475. “But you won’t be able to get on or off the freeway,” she said.


The announcement was welcomed by Mike Taweel, manager of Leo Marks Jewelers on Secor, who said construction crews are “not wasting any time” and anything that gets the Secor reconstruction done faster is good for business.

“They’re aiming to finish the project sooner than expected,” he said Monday. “I honestly don’t mind if they close it [the interchange] for 10 days. I can’t complain, because they’re doing a good job.”

But Pat Bassett, owner of Bassett’s Health Foods, said closing the ramps will worsen an already bad situation for her business.

“I might as well close up shop then if they did that,” she said. “I’m losing so much money — two, three, four thousand dollars a day. I don’t know why they can’t do it with half open at a time like they are now.”

Project planners had said in February they thought Secor could be rebuilt at the freeway ramps in stages so that ramp closings could be limited to overnight hours.

But Ms. Whitney said Monday that the Ohio Department of Transportation was “very concerned” about exit-ramp traffic backing up onto I-475, where it could cause a serious rear-end collision hazard.

Geddis has assured city officials that it can rebuild all five lanes of Secor — including left-turn lanes for freeway entrances — through the interchange area in just 10 days, the engineering commissioner said.

The June 4 start date is dependent on the contractor finishing its work to rebuild Secor’s southbound lanes between I-475 and Central Avenue, she said, while acknowledging the 10-day plan for rebuilding the interchange area is vulnerable to severe weather.

While construction could continue during light rain, “if we get some torrential rain, they could have problems with that schedule,” Ms. Whitney said.

The ramp closings will be harder on some motorists than others.

For westbound I-475 traffic that normally exits at Secor, the nearby Monroe Street exit will be an easy alternative. Drivers who usually enter eastbound I-475 at Secor can choose between the Talmadge or Douglas ramps; the Monroe entrance is closed all year because of on-going I-475 reconstruction east of there.

But for traffic that either exits eastbound I-475 at Secor or enters the freeway’s westbound side there, alternatives are few.

City officials said they will urge eastbound I-475 drivers to use the ProMedica Parkway exit, more than a mile to the east, and will post detour routes leading them back to Secor.

The other option would be the Corey Road exit, which is already so congested that ODOT plans to widen it and replace its stop sign with a traffic light later this year.

The ProMedica and Corey entrances are the only options for drivers who now enter westbound I-475 at Secor. Traffic often backs up on westbound Sylvania Avenue approaching Corey with traffic waiting to turn left to reach the I-475 entrance there.

Ms. Whitney said that, except for the eastbound exiting traffic, city leaders don’t want to recommend one particular detour because they don’t want to overwhelm that alternative.

“Most people in this area are going to go where they want to go,” she said.

But for commuters who still brave Secor Road despite its reconstruction, scheduled to end Nov. 1, the best option may be to go on vacation during the first full two weeks of June.

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