Southbound I-75 will be realigned through its I-280 junction in North Toledo as part of widening the freeway between that junction and Lagrange Street, according to Ohio Department of Transportation plans.
The realignment will change how I-280 ramps connect to southbound I-75, eliminating in particular a troublesome merge where traffic entering from northbound I-280 enters southbound I-75’s left lane.
“Realignment of southbound I-75 through the I-280 split greatly improves the safety of the merge from northbound I-280 to southbound I-75 — it will allow drivers to enter onto an add lane on the right side of I-75 versus merging into the high-speed left lane,” said Mike Gramza, the planning and engineering administrator at ODOT’s Bowling Green district office.
ODOT also plans to replace the so-called “Polish Village" Overpass but eliminate the underpass at Cecelia Avenue when it widens I-75 from four lanes to six west of the I-280 junction, a $45 million project intended to complement I-75 widening between Lagrange and I-475 in central Toledo.
Noise walls are to be built where I-75 passes several neighborhoods near Lagrange and Stickney Avenue during the project, but no new right-of-way is expected to be needed for the widening, with retaining walls to be used instead where necessary.
ODOT will hold a public meeting to present the I-75 widening project from 4 to 7 p.m., Thursday. Officials will take public comments in writing at the meeting, which will be held at Woodward High School cafeteria, 701 E. Central Ave.
Both I-75 projects are set to start in 2015, with the work between Lagrange and I-280 expected to finish in 2016 while the work south of Lagrange likely will last into 2017.
“It’ll be two different contracts, but they’ll meld together to be as convenient as construction can be,” Mr. Gramza said.
Traffic headed from southbound I-75 to I-280 now must approach that junction in the left or center lane, with the center lane splitting at the exit. The planned construction will involve building lanes for southbound I-75 that stay parallel to the northbound lanes, while the existing route for southbound traffic will be converted into an exit ramp serving both I-280 and the Stickney-Lagrange interchange.
Traffic coming in from northbound I-280 will join traffic that has exited southbound I-75 for Stickney-Lagrange, then those two lanes will rejoin southbound I-75 before the exit ramp for the city streets peels away.
That arrangement will give southbound I-75 motorists a second chance to exit for Stickney-Lagrange, but Mr. Gramza said it is ODOT’s intent that they take the ramp lane through the I-280 interchange, which will minimize conflict with traffic entering southbound I-75 from northbound I-280.
The ramp from southbound I-75 to I-280 has long been a trouble spot for heavy trucks, which have been prone to rollovers when exceeding the 40-mph recommended speed on a curve.
State officials said that curve won’t be straightened during the construction but having traffic exit I-75 from the right lane before entering that curve should slow drivers down.
Two lanes of traffic will be maintained in both directions on I-75 at peak travel hours during construction, Mr. Gramza said. ODOT officials plan to promote an alternate route using I-280 and State Rt. 795 for through-traffic during the I-75 construction.
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