For at least the third time since late April, southbound I-75 was jammed through Toledo last week after emergency repairs shut down two of three lanes across the aging DiSalle Bridge over the Maumee River.
As had been the case with an incident April 30, the most recent culprit was a large pothole that developed on the right half of the bridge’s southbound left lane, closing the center lane as well.
On Aug. 2, meanwhile, a failing expansion joint in the center lane shut down two of three southbound lanes for two days.
The 1960s-vintage bridge is scheduled for replacement as part of an I-75 reconstruction project for which the Ohio Department of Transportation expects to award a contract in March.
But in the meantime, ODOT is taking out what amounts to a $388,300 insurance policy to maintain it and four other aging freeway bridges in the Toledo area during the coming winter.
The state has retained Vernon Nagel Inc. of Napoleon to be on-call from November through March to repair the DiSalle, I-75’s adjacent bridge over Miami Street, and three bridges on I-475/U.S. 23 in Springfield and Monclova townships as needed.
“The contractor will address any problems within a few hours and must restore all lanes within 24 hours,” said Rebecca Dangelo, an ODOT spokesman in Bowling Green.
The repair work Thursday snarled traffic from sunrise to sunset, with southbound I-75 backed up as far as I-280 — about eight miles — at times.
Similar congestion arose during the earlier emergency repairs, with delays arising on alternative routes through downtown Toledo and other Maumee River bridges as well. Compounding the downtown tie-ups has been repaving work on Summit Street.
ODOT spent $10.2 million in late 2009 and early 2010 to replace the top few inches of the DiSalle’s concrete deck. At the time, state officials said they expected that overlay to extend the bridge’s life by 20 years.
But Ms. Dangelo described that repair as “a Band-Aid” and that pothole problems have redeveloped from water seeping between the layers of newer and older concrete.
The hole that developed Thursday was about 3 feet by 4 feet when lanes were closed, the ODOT spokesman said, but crews then dug out to 6 feet by 12 feet to make the repair — akin to how a dentist drills out a cavity before putting in a filling.
“The pavement around that was starting to look bad,” she said.
A state contract for I-75 reconstruction between South Avenue and Glenwood Road in Rossford is scheduled for award in March and will include replacing the DiSalle with a new bridge slightly upriver.
But it will likely be late 2020, if not later, before any traffic starts using the first half of the new bridge. Ms. Dangelo said the state contract will include any repairs necessary to the old bridge for as long as it remains in use.
Contact David Patch at email@example.com or 419-724-6094.
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