City to untangle ‘Thousand Islands’

Easing confusion, traffic prime goal

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  • Some drivers consider modern roundabouts to be confusing, but a Toledo street planner believes they can’t possibly be more confusing than the city’s so-called Thousand Islands intersections, where Cherry Street, Collingwood and Manhattan boulevards, and Detroit and Berdan avenues come together.

    If the Division of Engineering Services proceeds with its preferred alternative to untangle the Thousand Islands jumble, David Dysard will have a chance to test his belief.

    The city’s recommendations for five roundabouts in and near the Thousand Islands junction and other street revisions, to be built in concert with an upcoming I-75 reconstruction and widening project, will be up for public discussion Monday at Rosa Parks Elementary School.

    City officials also plan to use the meeting, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the school library, to brief residents about an sewer project that will close most of a popular city park for three years. A formal presentation will start at 6 p.m.

    The streets plan calls for roundabouts along Berdan at Haverhill Drive and Jeep Parkway; at the Berdan-Detroit-Cherry intersection; at Cherry and Manhattan, and at Manhattan and Phillips Avenue.

    “If you’re going to want to go through this corridor, you’re going to have to learn to use a roundabout,” said Mr. Dysard, an engineering-services administrator.

    That advice applies to more than 21,000 vehicles per day that, according to the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments’ latest traffic data, pass through the heart of the junction.

    That number is likely to go up once the Ohio Department of Transportation’s I-75 reconstruction closes the Berdan half-interchange and two of six ramps at the Willys-Jeep interchange in 2015.

    “But man, they’re so much safer” than traffic signal intersections, and roundabouts are certainly less confusing than the Thousand Islands, Mr. Dysard said.

    He recounted how he and other officials recently watched a driver make a wrong-way turn in the intersection, then become completely befuddled, stopping in a position where she could have been broadsided by other cars.

    The proposal also calls for Collingwood to be rerouted to connect it to Cherry opposite Richardson Drive. Cherry now crosses Manhattan and continuing north to Detroit Avenue.

    It would restore a two-way connection between Cherry and Manhattan that was reduced to one-way eastbound when the intersection was rebuilt decades ago.

    The project is expected to cost about $12.5 million.

    The city has secured $6 million from the Ohio Department of Transportation based on the projected improvements to traffic flow to the nearby I-75 interchanges at Phillips and at Willys Parkway.

    The rest will come from a mix of city and federal funds.

    The five roundabouts would be in addition to two others nearby: one built by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority inside its Overland Industrial Park along a street planned for extension up to Berdan, and a dual “teardrop” roundabout ODOT plans at the Willys interchange.

    The state’s $163 million plan for rebuilding and widening I-75 between I-475 and Lagrange Street includes, at city request, severing Willys just west of the freeway so that it is no longer used for cut-through traffic.

    Although Lucas County has built several roundabouts in Sylvania and Springfield townships, the ones planned near the Thousand Islands and Overland Industrial Park would be the first in Toledo.

    The design requires all traffic to enter a circle that is traversed counter-clockwise, with vehicles already using the circle having the right-of-way.

    Roundabouts are promoted as an alternative to intersections with traffic lights and left-turns lanes that requires less space.

    They allow most traffic to move continually instead of having to stop for traffic signals. Proponents say they eliminate high-speed, right-angle collisions that occur when drivers fail to heed stop signs or red lights.

    Popular in Europe, they have been used to increasing degrees in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio in recent years.

    Most of the city roundabouts are to be built between 2015 and 2017, but Mr. Dysard said one of the circles — the central one at Detroit-Cherry-Berdan — is to be built next year so that Detroit Avenue is open during the massive I-75 project.

    Building the Cherry-Berdan roundabout will close Detroit for about 90 days, while one lane will be maintained on Cherry and Berdan across Detroit, to avoid disrupting ambulances that are headed to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center on Cherry, Mr. Dysard said.

    The $70 million sewer project to be presented during the meeting is construction of a 36 million-gallon underground sewage retention tank under Joe E. Brown Park that is part of the on-going Toledo Waterways Initiative.

    Contact David Patch at: or 419-724-6094.