The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

After months of speculation, the Ohio Department of Transportation has released its official construction and closure schedule for the $28.7 million renovation of The Anthony Wayne Bridge, also knows as Toledo High Level Bridge.

Theresa Pollick, ODOT spokesperson, and engineers Dave Geckle and Mike Lopez announced the schedule to an estimated crowd of 60 concerned citizens who gathered Thursday at the East Toledo Center at a meeting sponsored by the East Toledo Club.

Pollick said bridge traffic will be reduced to one lane each way starting later this spring or early summer continuing until sometime between January and March of 2014. The bridge will then be closed to all traffic until late 2015. According to a 2010 traffic count study by the Toledo Metropolitan Council of Governments an estimated 28,900 vehicles use the bridge every day.

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Top left, at the East Toledo Club meeting, Diana Cheek raises concerns about the bridge. Center left, Dave Geckle, project manager, and Mike Lopez of ODOT, and Theresa Pollick (bottom left), ODOT, respond to questions. At right, repair work for the Anthony Wayne Bridge will begin this spring. (Press photo by Ken Grosjean and Stephanie Szozda)

Most of the work to be done this year will be under the bridge with workers placing safety platforms. Next year, the contractor, E.S. Wagner of Oregon, will begin tearing off the deck and the approaches to the bridge. Both approaches will be removed and completely rebuilt with additional piers and two trusses instead of the one large truss in current use at each end. This change is precipitated by what engineers have learned studying the collapse in 2007 of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis. That disaster plunged a dozen cars into the river, killed 13 and injured more than 140.

In addition to reengineering the approaches, workers will replace the deck, sidewalks, railings, fencing and the expansion joints. After the bridge reopens, it will be repainted the familiar blue that has graced the skyline of Toledo since it opened in 1931. The painting will also necessitate lane restrictions.

ODOT engineers spent three years, from 2009 to 2012, testing and inspecting various bridge components and have deemed the cables and suspension wires are still in good condition so they will not be replaced, Pollick said.

Most of the design changes to make the bridge safer will occur under it. In the end, Pollick said the bridge will look much as it does today and she asks for your patience. ”It’s not like we can go to Walmart and get a new light fixture. They have to be made…Because of the age of this bridge, it requires experts and engineers…This is a piece of history so it takes time to make sure we do it right.” (For a related story about the history of the bridge see page 11).

Pollick said there have been major renovations of the bridge in 1960-61, the early 80s and 1996-97, but this is the most extensive and requires the longest closing. The news didn't set well with many in the crowd. However, one woman, Diana Cheek, has lived 20-feet from the bridge for 41 years and she is glad to see the renovation. She knows the bridge well. Some years ago, she successfully lobbied ODOT to get fencing installed on the declines after having seven windows broken because of objects thrown from motorists. She asked why the bridge was neglected for so long while the state found funds to build the Veterans Glass City Skyway and the City of Toledo renovated the Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge.

“It’s rotten underneath. We have to pick up chunks of concrete before we can mow our lawn. I’m glad we’re going to do this.”

Others in the crowd  were concerned about fire protection should support be needed from across the river and how much more difficult it will become crossing the river given the numerous, blocked railroad crossings and the new angle parking on Main Street which has reduced traffic to one lane each way.

Eulan Tucker, an Oregon resident and businessman, wanted to know if ODOT was coordinating its efforts with the City of Toledo to make sure traffic wasn't impeded at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge. Pollick said ODOT has had conversations with the city and she doesn't believe any work is planned for that bridge. That may not be the case for the Craig Bridge, however.

The official detour will take motorists down Oak, Fassett, Miami, I-75, The Anthony Wayne Trail, Monroe Street and Summit. Don't bother. Most of us will find our way via I-280 over the Veterans Glass City Skyway or down Main to Cherry via the MLK Bridge.

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