Motorists entering downtown Toledo from the Anthony Wayne Trail or the Downtown exit from northbound I-75 today are greeted by crumbling concrete pavement, an abandoned railroad crossing, and a five-way intersection at Erie and Lafayette streets that features a bewildering mix of one-way and two-way streets.
In conjunction with an upcoming state project to rebuild the adjoining stretch of I-75, city officials now have drafted a plan to realign that entrance and create what they hope will be a more welcoming gateway to downtown.
“This is the big entrance to the core of our region,” said David Dysard, planning administrator with Toledo’s division of engineering services. “The image we project here reflects on our whole region.”
The city’s preferred alternative for the project will be the subject of a public meeting today, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., in the Fountain Room at the Erie Street Market, 237 S. Erie St. A formal presentation will start at 6 p.m.
The market is just south of Erie’s Vance Street intersection, near where the city’s plan calls for the rerouted Trail to tie into Erie Street.
A ramp would peel from the Trail to Erie Street near Market Street, with Erie Street becoming one-way toward downtown between Market and Lafayette streets. That would eliminate the option of taking Michigan Street to Lafayette Street and Erie Street to get from downtown to the Erie market; Huron Street to Market Street would become the only direct route.
The project would restore two-way traffic to Lafayette Street between Erie and Huron streets and allow through traffic on Lafayette Street across Erie Street. That would eliminate forced left or right turns from Lafayette Street that confuse some drivers who turn the wrong way into oncoming traffic.
“It should be a lot less confusing, a lot more efficient, and a lot safer,” Mr. Dysard said.
Construction is expected to cost $3.75 million, including $2.8 million in federal funds, and start in the spring of 2016.
The city hopes to coordinate its work with the Ohio Department of Transportation’s plan to rebuild the I-75/Anthony Wayne Trail interchange so as to minimize traffic disruption, Mr. Dysard said, but will proceed separately if the state project is delayed.
With one exception, he said, buildings that the city would need to take to build its project are vacant and for sale.
Randall Hueston, whose business at 39 Vance St., Tin Knockers, is the one exception, said he’s “actually fine with” the possibility of being bought out and moving.
The vacated Trail right-of-way is to be converted into a park, perhaps punctuated by some form of public art.
Marc Folk, executive director of The Arts Commission of Greater Toledo, said that along with the federal transportation funds assigned to the project, there is a grant for a “public art component” expected to cost between $300,000 and $500,000.
“We’re very much in favor of the redesign of that intersection,” Mr. Folk said, “and we’re excited about the opportunity for public art at that gateway.”
The commission has received 138 submissions in response to a nationwide solicitation of artists to design an art element for the project, Mr. Folk said.
The commission intends to narrow that field down to “three to five finalists” with some sort of public involvement in the selection process, he said.
The chosen artist would then work with the arts commission to design the artwork for the Trail gateway.
“It could be a sculpture, it could be lighting, it could be any number of solutions,” Mr. Folk said.
Contact David Patch at: email@example.com or 419-724-6094.