An upcoming city of Toledo project to repave Front Street north of I-280 might be supplemented by — or expanded to include — construction of two modern roundabouts near the Port of Toledo to support the planned development of an iron processing plant nearby.
One of the two roundabouts connecting Cherry Street and Detroit Avenue in Toledo. An upcoming project to repave Front Street north of I-280 might be supplemented by — or expanded to include — construction of two modern roundabouts.
The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority board of directors voted Thursday to accept two state grants totaling up to $2.25 million toward the estimated $4,368,000 cost of designing and building the circular intersections at Front and Millard Avenue, and at Millard and Tiffin avenues.
Joe Cappel, the port authority’s director of cargo development, said the Millard/Tiffin circle intersection also will serve the main entrance for a planned $700 million Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. plant.
Groundbreaking for that facility, which will process iron-ore pellets into a concentrated product known as hot-briquetted iron, is slated for early next year, with the plant’s opening planned in 2020.
Already in the works is a city project to resurface Front between I-280 and Millard. That $3.77 million project, for which the city has $2.752 million in federal funds allocated by the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, is scheduled for construction in late 2020 or early 2021.
“It makes sense to do them together,” Mr. Cappel said, describing what the port wants to do as “expanding the scope” of the city’s previously planned project.
Janet Schroeder, a city spokesman, said there has been “discussion about the two projects and how they might relate to each other,” but no definite plan to link them has been developed.
Doug Stephens, the city’s commissioner of engineering services, said the city’s project is likely to include some full-depth pavement repair but would otherwise be a repaving project, not a reconstruction.
The state grants that were accepted Thursday by the port directors include $1,750,000 from the Ohio Development Services Agency’s Roadwork Development Grant program, and up to $500,000 from the JobsOhio program.
The port authority’s resolution states the balance of project costs would be paid from the port authority, city of Toledo, state of Ohio, or other funding sources. Mr. Stephens said the city’s long-range budget outlook through fiscal year 2022 does not now include any money for work on Millard.
Front and Millard have long formed a major truck route to and from Toledo’s port and the surrounding industrial area, which features the BP-Husky refinery in Oregon.
Port officials said Thursday that even without the Cliffs project’s development on 100 acres of the former Gulf Oil refinery site, traffic improvements on Millard are needed.
Traffic backs up, particularly on westbound Millard approaching Front after shift changes at BP-Husky, Mr. Cappel said. Roundabouts would reduce the degree to which heavy trucks slow to and accelerate from stop signs or signals.
Traffic could grow more congested in the area as the result of a prospective port project for which the board approved a one-year land-lease option Thursday.
Midstream Methanol, LLC is to pay the port authority $9,200 for a one-year hold on 9.5 acres of port-owned property on Front’s west side, just upriver from the Ironville Dock, which in turn is across Front from the Cliffs plant site.
During that year, port officials said, Midstream will have access to the site to “conduct its due diligence necessary” before deciding whether to lease the property on a long-term basis for development of a methanol production and distribution facility.
“This gives them one year to investigate the site,” Paul Toth, the port authority’s president and chief executive, told the board.
If built, the plant would cost about $140 million and employ about 40 people, he and Mr. Cappel said.
Mr. Cappel said after the meeting such a plant’s methanol would be produced from natural gas and shipped out by truck or train.
“I think they’re exploring several different sites right now,” he said. “If [the site] doesn’t go to the methanol plant, we could have other opportunities.”
Contact David Patch at email@example.com or 419-724-6094.
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