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Published: Thursday, 4/11/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Dixie Hwy. construction could begin in early May

New lane to ease traffic near Levis Commons

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Work is likely to start early next month to add a right-turn lane on northbound Dixie Highway at I-475/U.S. 23 near Levis Commons, Ohio Department of Transportation officials said on Wednesday while formally announcing the upcoming season’s construction program in eight northwest Ohio counties.

With a cost of $333,000, the turn-lane project won’t be the area’s most expensive this year, nor will it be the longest-lasting — it’s expected to be done by early July. But officials said it will relieve traffic congestion and improve safety in an area that has developed rapidly in the last decade, spurred by Levis Commons’ construction and Owens-Illinois’ nearby relocation of its headquarters.

“This location will benefit almost immediately when this is done,” Todd Audet, ODOT’s deputy director for the Bowling Green district office, said after a news conference at the Books-A-Million store in the Town Center at Levis Commons complex.

Overall, ODOT expects to spend about $170 million this year on 70 projects throughout its Bowling Green-based district, which stretches from Williams County in the west to Seneca and Ottawa counties in the east.

Most likely to disrupt traffic severely is the $28.7 million rehabilitation project on the Anthony Wayne Bridge in Toledo, which is scheduled to last three construction seasons and shut the bridge down for 19 months in the middle of that.

But state officials said Wednesday they don’t yet know whether that 19-month closing of the structure also known as the High Level Bridge will start this year or next.

“We will have lane restrictions at least” this year, district spokesman Theresa Pollick said.

Other major projects mentioned during the news conference included rebuilding the I-475/U.S. 23 bridges over the Ohio Turnpike, completing the three-year rebuilding of I-475 between I-75 and Rushland Avenue in central Toledo, and I-475 interchange improvements at Corey and Talmadge roads in Toledo and Sylvania Township.

Starting the project on Dixie, part of State Rt. 25, will depend on when the Shelly Company, ODOT’s contractor, opens its asphalt-mix plants for the season, said Brian French, the department’s area engineer. He said he expects that to occur within a couple of weeks with work to start shortly after that — probably by early May.

The work will initially reduce northbound Dixie to one lane between Levis Commons Boulevard and the freeway interchange. But after two to three weeks of initial construction, two lanes of traffic will be restored in each direction and maintained for the rest of the project, Mr. French said.

Shelly is angling toward having construction finished by the Fourth of July, the ODOT engineer said, but may take longer unless the area has unusually pleasant weather this spring.

About 31,200 vehicles use Dixie between I-475/U.S. 23 and Levis Commons on a typical day, according to the state’s most recent traffic count, while about 8,500 cars and trucks use the southbound freeway entrance. ODOT does not have a specific count for traffic that turns right onto that ramp, which will be closed for three days toward the project’s completion.

Casey Pogan, marketing director for the Town Center at Levis Commons, said the finished project will be worth the inconvenience.

“Orange barrels are no one’s favorite pastime,” she said. “But customers will not be inconvenienced coming into the property, and we’ll look to the locals and regulars to find other ways to exit.”

Statewide, ODOT expects to spend as much as $2.3 billion this year, with the largest new project being the $320 million replacement of the I-90 Inner Belt Bridge in Cleveland, which will be rebuilt as the eastbound lanes next to a new structure for westbound traffic.

The program also features a $63.2 million reconstruction of four miles of I-75 near Lima that has already begun and is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2014.

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



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