West Toledo utility, road work on Monroe to extend into December

11/16/2012
BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Lanes are reduced as gas line construction continues Thursday on Monroe Street, between Secor Road and Sylvania Avenue.
Lanes are reduced as gas line construction continues Thursday on Monroe Street, between Secor Road and Sylvania Avenue.

Like an un­wanted Christ­mas pres­ent, gas-line con­struc­tion along an al­ready con­gested stretch of Mon­roe Street is stick­ing around — well into the hol­i­day shop­ping sea­son.

When Co­lum­bia Gas of Ohio started dig­ging holes in the mid­dle of Mon­roe on Oct. 25 for ac­cess points to run new gas mains be­neath the street near Se­cor — a pre­para­tory step be­fore the city of Toledo re­builds Se­cor from Mon­roe to Cen­tral Avenue next year — it ex­pected the work to be done by to­day.

But on Thurs­day, the city trans­por­ta­tion di­vi­sion an­nounced the gas-main work will take nearly a month lon­ger, keep­ing lanes closed through Dec. 15.

A Co­lum­bia Gas spokes­man blamed the de­lay on a cause that should be fa­mil­iar to or­ange-bar­rel-weary mo­tor­ists: un­der­ground util­ity con­flicts. “We found a ce­ment wall. We found a steel sewer ba­sin that no­body knew about,” spokes­man Chris Kozak said. “ ... It’s ba­si­cally the na­ture of un­der­ground dig­ging.”

Gas-main work along Se­cor be­tween Mon­roe and Cen­tral that was sched­uled to end Thanks­giv­ing Eve also has been ex­tended to Dec. 15. That work has re­quired in­ter­mit­tent lane clos­ings since late sum­mer.

A worker stops traffic due to gas line construction Thursday on Monroe Street, between Secor Road and Sylvania Avenue.
A worker stops traffic due to gas line construction Thursday on Monroe Street, between Secor Road and Sylvania Avenue.

The work oc­ca­sion­ally has caused traf­fic ex­it­ing I-475 at the Se­cor in­ter­change to back up on the ramps, es­pe­cially west­bound.

But un­like the work on Mon­roe, the Se­cor work re­quires no full-time lane clos­ings, and city of­fi­cials said all lanes will be open on Se­cor dur­ing the Thanks­giv­ing hol­i­day week­end.

The Mon­roe work has closed the cen­ter left-turn lane plus the left lanes in both di­rec­tions. Mr. Kozak said all work will be sus­pended next week, al­low­ing the left lanes to re­open but keep­ing the cen­ter lane closed.

Even so, Gene Kelly, a spokes­man for the city trans­por­ta­tion di­vi­sion, said mo­tor­ists would do well to avoid Mon­roe near Se­cor, es­pe­cially when work is un­der way.

“It’s go­ing to be a com­plete mess,” he said. “We would rec­om­mend Tal­madge [Road], and that’s prob­a­bly the only road we can rec­om­mend.”

Of course, Tal­madge Road is rarely clear sail­ing, ei­ther, when thou­sands of shop­pers are us­ing it each day to get to and from West­field Frank­lin Park mall.

Mr. Kozak, a for­mer West Toledo res­i­dent who once worked at the mall, ac­knowl­edged that the $3.7 mil­lion gas-line proj­ect is in­con­ve­nient for mo­tor­ists but said Co­lum­bia has been or­dered to move its pipes be­fore the city re­builds Se­cor.

The util­ity orig­i­nally planned to lay the new lines along Mon­roe out­side the street, as it is do­ing along Se­cor, “but we were un­able to se­cure the ease­ments we needed” to do that, he said.

Over­all, the spokes­man said, Co­lum­bia is re­plac­ing 7,000 feet of gas main with new 12-inch steel or 4-inch plas­tic pipe. The proj­ect is 90 per­cent com­plete and will be fin­ished ear­lier than the new dead­line if pos­si­ble, Mr. Kozak said.

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