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.
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:firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6094.