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Toledo’s 10-day shutdown of I-475’s Secor Road interchange ramps may end up lasting closer to two weeks because of wet weather, but paving crews on Tuesday appeared to be making the most of an interlude between two rainy days.
Under the revised schedule that city officials announced last week, Tuesday was to have been the sixth day of the 10-day ramp closing that project managers decided was the least inconvenient way to rebuild Secor’s six-plus lanes through the I-475 interchange area.
On that basis, the work should have reached its halfway point the evening before. But Steve Oliver, the vice president for contractor Geddis Paving, said Monday had been a washout, “and we’re probably going to lose tomorrow [Wednesday] too, looking at the forecast.”
Couple that with the unlikelihood of asphalt being delivered to the construction site on Sunday — the project’s need will be too small to justify keeping local mixing plants operating for the day, Mr. Oliver said — and the freeway ramps could stay closed until the middle of next week.
“If everything goes well, we should be out of here [June 19] at the latest,” Mr. Oliver said.
The delay can’t be good news for nearby merchants whose customers use I-475 to reach Secor’s commercial strip, but several said Tuesday they were hoping for the best and confident that work was proceeding as quickly as possible.
“It’s going to be really, really nice for the outcome,” said Cindy Hudson, marketing manager for Henley Bluewater Inc., which operates a Valvoline Instant Oil Change shop on Secor just south of the freeway.
The company had “plenty of lead time” to prepare for the construction, she said, and responded with extra advertising that included renting a billboard overhead and posting extra signs along the sidewalk.
But while Valvoline employees supplemented those ads by holding up even more signs to solicit motorists, business was slow at the shop, and a KFC restaurant on the opposite side of I-475 also was virtually deserted shortly before noon, when the lunch rush might normally be getting started.
Mike Tawil, the store manager at Leo Marks Jewelers a few blocks to the south, said business was even slower with the freeway ramps closed than it had been earlier in the project when Secor was rebuilt right in front of the store.
But with a completely new street as the result and redevelopment in the offing for the vacant former Showcase Cinemas site across the street, “we see a bright future for the area,” Mr. Tawil said.
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Paving work Tuesday cut off the only driveways to Westgate Storage and a neighboring doctor’s office for much of the day.
A man identifying himself as a doctor from the office but who declined to give his name, walked up to Mr. Oliver and asked what was happening, saying he had received no notice of the driveway being blocked and had patients who couldn’t get to their appointments.
But Pam Krupp, Westgate Storage’s co-owner, said she had ample warning about the paving and notified customers that they wouldn’t be able to reach their storage units during the day. Many who need frequent access came in early because of the warning, she said.
Traffic flowed relatively freely past the work area on Secor, which Steve Hamilton, the city division of engineering services' ombudsman for the project, said showed how much traffic I-475 contributes to the busy corridor.
The detour “scared away a lot of the people that would normally would be trying to get through from the freeway,” he said.
Two companies, Geddis and Ebony Construction, paved the outside lanes Tuesday morning with separate crews. Mr. Hamilton noted that rebuilding the inside lanes — once the outside lanes are finished — won’t take as long because no curbs or drains need to be replaced during that stage.
The Ohio Department of Transportation, meanwhile, has assigned a crew to repave the Secor ramps this week, taking advantage of the closure to do work previously planned for next year. The crew started with repaving the eastbound I-475 entrance ramp Tuesday morning.
Once Secor is rebuilt through the interchange area, two more phases of the city’s $5.4 million reconstruction project will remain: the short stretch between I-475 and Monroe Street and the Central Avenue intersection.
Mr. Oliver said the section toward Monroe will be done first, because the contractor is waiting for AT&T to work on an underground utility vault before it can do the Central intersection. That project will require another major, if short-term, detour.
But overall, he said, the Secor project appears on track for completion well ahead of the city’s Nov. 1 deadline. Geddis would be eligible for a $10,000 bonus for each day it beats the deadline, although if it ends up late, it also would face a $10,000 per day penalty.
The bonus is “what we’ve been shooting for all along,” Mr. Oliver said.
Contact David Patch at: email@example.com or 419-724-6094.