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Published: Friday, 1/31/2014 - Updated: 9 months ago

I-75 makeover to take 5 houses

Work to be where Toledo, Rossford, Northwood meet

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The neighborhood in which Marylin Lucas grew up — in the house where her daughter, Kristin Dewey, now lives — has undergone several rounds of change over the years because of nearby I-75.

A half-century ago, to accommodate the freeway’s original construction, Woodmore Street was truncated and connected to the Miami Street entrance to I-75’s southbound lanes. Several houses affected by the work were hoisted off their foundations and moved several blocks north on Miami.

About two years ago, during Hollywood Toledo Casino’s construction, Woodmore was rerouted again, to connect it with neighboring Linmore Street so the I-75 ramp would no longer have two-way traffic.

Now, with the Ohio Department of Transportation planning a $263 million makeover for I-75 through the area, officials plan another access change for the enclave, which straddles the limits of Toledo, Rossford, and Northwood and is tucked between the freeway, a railroad yard, and vacant land belonging to Pilkington PLC.

To separate neighborhood traffic completely from the Miami interchange, ODOT proposes a new street that would intersect Miami at the casino’s entrance and loop around the houses, running down the Rossford side of the Toledo border and connecting to existing local streets’ dead ends.

Ms. Dewey and Ms. Lucas turned out Thursday night for an ODOT open house at the Mayores Senior Center in South Toledo to see how I-75’s evolution would affect the family homestead on Woodmore.

“My great-grandfather built the house in the 1930s. I didn’t want anything to happen to that house,” said Ms. Dewey before explaining that while she lives in Northwood, her driveway is in Toledo.

Their house is safe, they learned, although a neighbor across the street owns the one house ODOT says would have to be removed to connect the new street to Woodmore.

Ms. Lucas and Ms. Dewey asked ODOT officials at the meeting if the street could be shifted so that it takes a different house that has been vacant for years and fallen into disrepair.

Michael Stormer, the department’s district planning engineer in Bowling Green, said that could be looked at, but wouldn’t necessarily work.

Along with the one house on Woodmore, ODOT’s “preferred alternative” for rebuilding I-75 between South Avenue in Toledo and Glenwood Road in Rossford involves property seizures from several dozen properties, including complete takes of five other properties — four residential, one commercial — near the South interchange. All five are affected by plans to shift I-75 slightly west as part of rebuilding the DiSalle Bridge over the Maumee River and realigning South’s entrance ramp to southbound I-75 to make it easier for trucks leaving riverfront grain and aggregates terminals to navigate.

“I think it’s going to be awfully noisy for me,” said Betty Sobczak, who lives at South and Sumner Street.

Noise from pile driving when the casino was built was bad enough, Ms. Sobczak said, “and that was across the river.”

But she welcomed the prospect of tractor-trailers no longer turning around at her corner because they couldn’t handle the hairpin turn from westbound South Avenue onto the current ramp, and said anything to make that entrance safer would be helpful.

“You’d better go slow [driving up that ramp]. People are coming really, really fast [on I-75] and they’re not going to stop for you, so you’d better be able to stop for them,” Ms. Sobczak said.

Slightly less difficult ramps from Miami to northbound I-75 also are to be replaced during the project, which would provide a fourth lane in each direction across the DiSalle Bridge for traffic using ramps at either sides of the Maumee.

“It’s going to definitely improve the safety of the area,” agreed Mike Patronik of Rossford, who also owns a house on Woodmore and says he avoids the South entrance “at all cost” because it’s so dangerous. He hopes ODOT plans for a noise wall near the house he owns will reverse trouble he has had trying to sell it.

Rebuilding I-75 between South and Glenwood is scheduled to be the last of a series of state projects to rebuild the busy freeway through Toledo.

Mike Gramza, ODOT’s district construction engineer, said plans will be ready for construction to begin in 2017 if funds are available, but right now 2018 is a more likely start year.

Rossford Mayor Neil MacKinnon III predicted that, besides traffic-safety improvements, the project will open up the vacant land behind Ms. Dewey’s neighborhood to development.

“I love it,” he said. “I wish it were starting now.”

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



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