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Published: Monday, 6/23/2014 - Updated: 1 year ago

New navigation set for ‘‍Thousand Islands’

Nightmare intersections to get first multilane treatment in area


When it was built 65 years ago, Toledo’s so-called Thousand Islands intersection was a solution to a problem — the virtual free-for-all that was the five-way intersection of Cherry Street and Collingwood and Manhattan boulevards, and what was then Ursula, now part of Cherry.

A single traffic light on a central pedestal tried to tame traffic in the wide-open space. Motorists trying to turn left were especially burdened, sometimes having to face oncoming traffic from several directions at once.

A chain of traffic islands divided Cherry and Collingwood into separate one-way streams, with Manhattan later cut off except for traffic heading onto it from outbound Cherry. All traffic was initially governed by stop or yield signs, although eventually a lone traffic light was put up where outbound Cherry and southbound Collingwood cross.

But over the years, what had been considered a solution has become a problem, particularly involving motorists confused by the one-way streets and making wrong-way turns onto them.

The nearby intersection of Detroit Avenue with Cherry and Berdan avenues — a contributor to the Thousand Islands chaos, if not directly part of it — is only slightly less confusing.

Certain left-turn movements are forbidden as a safety measure, with one, from eastbound Berdan to northbound Detroit, provided for by a sequence of right turns using an auxiliary street in the intersection’s southeast corner.

All that is about to go away, and in those two intersections’ places will be built the city of Toledo’s first two modern roundabouts, which also will be the first multilane roundabouts in northwest Ohio.

While several roundabouts built by the Lucas County Engineer’s Office have been in operation in western Lucas County for several years, all involve traffic arriving from single-lane entrances and then flowing around the circle to the desired exit point. They also all replaced intersections with no more than two-way or four-way stop signs — no traffic signals.

Toledo’s new roundabouts thus will be the county’s first with two lanes of traffic entering at some points, requiring motorists to choose their lane carefully as they approach. But that’s also the case with traditional intersections, which can be many more lanes wider depending on how many dedicated left-turn and right-turn lanes they have.

“They really are a nice, simple traffic-control device,” David Dysard, planning administrator for the city division of engineering services, said last week.

They’ll also be the first to replace intersections that have stoplights.

Relocation of utility poles and underground utilities began last week, and Mr. Dysard said Toledo-based Geddis Construction should start full-blown construction under its $4,693,071.28 contract early next month.

A ground-breaking ceremony is planned for Wednesday morning, and Mr. Dysard said street closings are likely to start July 2 for about four months.

For the most part, the Thousand Islands will be a no-go zone for that entire period.

Detroit and Collingwood will be closed entirely, with through traffic detoured via Central Avenue, Jeep Parkway/​North Cove Boulevard, Berdan, Haverhill Drive, and Phillips Avenue.

Drivers on outbound Cherry will be forced onto Manhattan, which they then can use on a shorter detour route to Phillips to get back to Detroit or, via Haverhill, to Berdan.

The only through-route that won’t be detoured will be eastbound Berdan to inbound Cherry. Keeping a single lane open that way, city officials acknowledged during recent public meetings explaining the project, will save ambulances headed for Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center on Cherry from going too far out of their way.

Some motorists also may find I-75 to be a suitable detour, notably between the Phillips and Detroit interchanges.

“We are not officially posting that,” Mr. Dysard said.

When the streets reopen on or about Nov. 1, the two roundabouts will replace the multilegged monsters at both locations. Berdan, Cherry, and northbound and southbound Detroit will radiate from the westerly of the circles, while the easterly will serve Cherry and two-way traffic on Manhattan.

Collingwood, its function as a major artery eliminated when I-75 opened in the early 1970s, will bend into a four-way, standard intersection on Cherry at Richardson Drive. Its leg between Cherry and Detroit will be torn out.

Longer-term city and state plans call for six more roundabouts in the nearby area, including a “teardrop” dual roundabout at the Willys Parkway interchange on I-75. The Thousand Islands circles are going in first to get their construction out of the way before a major state reconstruction of I-75 between I-475 and I-280 starts next year.

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

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