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Proposed U.S. 20A interchange sparks questions at information session

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    Vehicles make their way through the 'diverging diamond' set up during construction of the State Rt. 25 interchange in Perrysburg near I-475/U.S. 23. ODOT told attendees of an informational session Thursday the same setup could be used during construction of a similar interchange at U.S. 20.

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    Vehicles make their way through the 'diverging diamond' set up during construction of the State Rt. 25 interchange in Perrysburg near I-475/U.S. 23. ODOT told attendees of an informational session Thursday the same setup could be used during construction of a similar interchange at U.S. 20.

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If Kelly Brown had her way, the Ohio Department of Transportation would start building a planned U.S. 20A interchange on I-475/U.S. 23 next month — if not next week.

“I’m just excited about the ease of access,” the Monclova Township resident said during an ODOT “open house” Thursday afternoon in Maumee City Council Chambers. “We live right off Maumee-Western [Road], and we have to kind of go out of our way to get to the freeway. … The only disappointing thing is that it might not happen until 2022.”

Her sentiments were typical of most of the dozens of people who attended the two-hour session, who came armed more with curiosity or questions than complaints.

CTY-diamond07p

Vehicles make their way through the 'diverging diamond' set up during construction of the State Rt. 25 interchange in Perrysburg near I-475/U.S. 23. ODOT told attendees of an informational session Thursday the same setup could be used during construction of a similar interchange at U.S. 20.

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Even Chris Kramer, another Monclova resident, agreed the new ramps are needed while expressing hope “that they plan for the consequences” of additional traffic along U.S. 20A, which carries the Maumee-Western Road name west of the freeway and Illinois Avenue east of it.

“I think there is going to be increased traffic,” conceded Michael Stormer, planning engineer from ODOT’s Bowling Green district office, “but I don’t know how much. It will be easier to get to 20A than it is now via Briarfield [Boulevard].”

ODOT already has built a roundabout on 20A at Eber Road and has plans for another at Weckerly Road, Mr. Stormer noted.

“As other areas come up, we’re going to do studies for those,” he said.

The new interchange is proposed to be built as part of I-475/U.S. 23 widening between Airport Highway and U.S. 24. While that two-year construction is tentatively scheduled to start in 2022, ODOT planners at the meeting cautioned it has yet to be funded through the state’s budgeting process for such “major/new” projects.

“Most people I’ve talked to want to see this done sooner than what we’re planning for,” said Mike Gramza, ODOT’s district capital programs administrator.

And like the proposed Dorr Street interchange to the north, only half of the interchange’s $28.5 million estimated cost will be paid by the state. The rest is being assembled by a consortium of local jurisdictions organized by the Lucas County Engineer’s Office.

ODOT’s construction plan includes not just new ramps but also replacing U.S. 20A’s aging bridge over the freeway with twin two-lane spans, one of which also would have a sidewalk.

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Traffic is to be set up using the same “diverging diamond” layout instituted last year at the freeway’s State Rt. 25 interchange in Perrysburg.

A “diverging diamond” would have U.S. 20A traffic cross over to the left half of the roadway at the first ramp intersection in each direction, then cross back to the right at the second, and allows all left turns to be made without opposing traffic or separate stoplight “arrow” phases.

Along the freeway, the new ramps would dovetail with the existing interchange at Salisbury Road/Dussel Drive so that all traffic for both sets of ramps would use single exit and entrance points with a separate lane in between linking them.

Lon Washtak, who lives on Cass Road in Maumee, said he attended the meeting because he was curious about the project’s design — particularly what he considers “extra pavement” to integrate the two sets of ramps.

But state officials said years ago that a combined interchange was the only way ramps would be built at U.S. 20A because it otherwise is too close to Salisbury/Dussel to comply with federal engineering standards.

The interchange’s budgeted cost is separate from the $64 million ODOT expects to spend to widen I-475/U.S. 23 between Airport and U.S. 24.

The widening section between Airport and Bancroft Street, meanwhile, is expected to cost about $41 million, including $16 million for the new Dorr interchange, and start in 2020.

The southerly section is expected to cost more because it requires more work, including full-depth pavement reconstruction and a major bridge replacement at Monclova Road, Mr. Gramza said.

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

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