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Published: Tuesday, 2/18/2014 - Updated: 6 months ago

Latest snowfall delays repair of pothole problem

But crews start prepping roads to work while temperature rises

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A semi truck is embedded in the snow facing the wrong way on southbound I-75 just south of Perrysburg Township. ODOT officials hope to start road repairs today. A semi truck is embedded in the snow facing the wrong way on southbound I-75 just south of Perrysburg Township. ODOT officials hope to start road repairs today.
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The 4.4-inch snowfall that hit Toledo on Monday evening — most of it in an initial 2-inch burst around 7 p.m. — delayed city and state pothole repair efforts that were to have started on Tuesday.

But Ohio Department of Transportation workers Tuesday afternoon started grinding off the worst pothole-plagued section of I-75 near downtown Toledo — lanes and ramps already closed because of their battered condition — and a state spokesman said paving using hot-mix asphalt was expected to start as soon as possible today.

“Hopefully, we can get some of this pavement to dry out with the sun,” said Theresa Pollick, ODOT’s spokesman at its Bowling Green district office, adding that “any time we can get temperatures above freezing” is helpful for pavement repairs.

David Welch, Toledo’s commissioner of streets, bridges, and harbor, said work crews should be out early today on the worst stretches of Douglas Road and the Anthony Wayne Trail. That’s one day behind schedule, but he’s hoping to get as much work done as possible on a mild, dry day.

After a cloudy start, the sun shone brightly Tuesday afternoon, warming the area above freezing for the first time since Feb. 1. The 41-degree reading at Toledo Express Airport late Tuesday night was the warmest there since the mercury reached 40 on Jan. 14.

That followed the latest winter storm, which was initially forecast last week as mostly rain, but turned out to be all snow in Toledo and its immediate suburbs. It arrived with near-whiteout conditions, then tapered off shortly after midnight.

The official 4.4-inch measurement at Toledo Express brought Toledo’s total season snowfall — technically dating back to July 1, but with no snow having fallen before a half-inch in November — to 72.7 inches. That’s just four-tenths of an inch shy of Toledo’s 73.1-inch record from the winter of 1977-78.

As of Tuesday evening, Toledo’s next chance for measurable snow was forecast to be early Friday.

But that is expected to be on the back side of a significant rainstorm predicted to arrive Thursday, possibly starting with some freezing rain and potentially including thunder during its height.

Warmer air is forecast to flow into the region ahead of that storm, with highs in the upper 30s today and mid-40s to near 50 on Thursday. Cooler air is expected to return on Friday and Saturday.

Ohio Department of Transportation official Dave Kanavel prepares to fix potholes on I-75 north of the I-475 split in Toledo. Parts of I-75 and I-475 will be closed today so crews can repair potholes. Ohio Department of Transportation official Dave Kanavel prepares to fix potholes on I-75 north of the I-475 split in Toledo. Parts of I-75 and I-475 will be closed today so crews can repair potholes.
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ODOT said it would have three paving crews out on Toledo-area freeways today to repair potholes with hot-asphalt mix.

Motorists initially should expect varying daytime lane closings on southbound I-75 between Perrysburg and North Baltimore; northbound I-75 through downtown Toledo, and southbound I-475 between the U.S. 23 junction in Sylvania Township and U.S. 24 in Maumee, ODOT said.

ODOT and the city of Toledo jointly arranged for Gerken Materials, a Napoleon-based contractor and asphalt producer, to open a hot-mix plant for emergency pavement repairs prompted by damage that officials attribute to extreme winter cold and freeze-thaw action that forms potholes.

The start-up cost is $5,000, split between the city and state, plus the cost of materials, said Todd Audet, ODOT’s district deputy director in Bowling Green.

But that and the inconvenience that lane closings are likely to cause will be far better than allowing potholes to get worse, he said.

“We’re going to get as much done as we can before the next round of winter,” Mr. Audet said. “We’re going to have seven days of activity, and we’ll be out there working in anything except snow. Our intent is that we don’t lose any more lanes, or roads.”

“It’s all weather-permitting,” Ms. Pollick added on Tuesday. “It’s an unprecedented thing that we’re doing. It’s not an ideal situation.”

ODOT already planned to rebuild I-75 between Dorr Street and Central Avenue starting this spring, but potholes became so bad on the northbound side at Delaware Avenue that officials closed the right and right-center lanes there Feb. 7.

ODOT on that day declared the lanes indefinitely closed until they could be repaired with hot asphalt mix, because the winter cold patch normally used for potholes was no longer effective.

Also today, ODOT announced pavement repairs on the southbound DiSalle Bridge that will require varying lane closings between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The South Avenue entrance ramp to I-75 also will be closed, but the Miami Street entrance will stay open.

While good for street repairs, the warmup brings a renewed risk of flooding and river ice jams, especially after the combined warm temperatures and heavy rain expected Thursday.

According to a National Weather Service forecast discussion posted Tuesday, “a good snow melt” is likely with the warm, moist air accompanying the storm, during which a half to three-quarters of an inch of rain is possible. Forecasters “will continue to monitor the potential for floods,” the weather service said.

Minor ice jams developed on the Maumee, Portage, and other area rivers during a previous thaw in mid-January.

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



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