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Northwest Ohio drivers can rejoice: Construction along the Interstate 75/Interstate 475 interchange in Toledo is nearing its end.
ODOT held a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday morning to celebrate "substantial completion" of the project: The ProMedica Parkway bridge over I-475 has opened.
Built in the late 1960s, the I-75/475 interchange outgrew its design. To solve traffic issues, the Ohio Department of Transportation created a project aimed to modernize the interstate systems interchange, reconstruct and rebuild the Douglas Road ramp, as well as build a new interchange at ProMedica Parkway. ODOT expects these changes to make the central Toledo area more easily accessible, while enhancing safety and beautifying the interstate corridor.
Started in the summer of 2010 and originally expected to be completed by the end of 2013, ODOT now estimates work to be finished by June 2014 - weather permitting. The project costs approximately $63.9 million, and made drivers deal with intermittent lane restrictions, ramp closures and bridge work. Traffic in the Glass City became unpredictable and frustrating, forcing drivers to simply avoid the massive construction zone altogether.
• I-75/I-475 interchange upgrades: The project reconfigures the current interchange by adding lane capacity to the ramp from southbound I-75 to westbound I-475, along with the ramp from eastbound I-475 to northbound I-75. These new lanes on the ramp will be accessible once the future I-75 project is complete.
• ProMedica Parkway: New interchange will allow for easy accessibility to and from I-475 from ProMedica Parkway.
• Widen I-475: Increase the number of lanes in certain areas along I-475 in both directions from Rushland Avenue to I-75.
ODOT officials say the new work not only provides a safe and more efficient way to get through central Toledo, but also northwest Ohio.
"This makes the first project, like I said, in the reconstruction of the interstate system from Findlay through Toledo, to I-280, so it's a tremendous opportunity for northwest Ohio, as we add capacity and improve safety on our system," said Todd Audet with ODOT.
New design features include:
• Arched black vandal fencing on the current bridges installed along new bridges.
• Signs and lighting to match I-280's monotube look.
• Many current noise walls are not replaced, but re-landscaped instead. Additional noise walls are also installed along the project.
Continued work areas:
• Rolling intermittent traffic stops possible for raised pavement marking installation and sign installation on I-475 between Monroe Street and I-75 through Nov. 16.
• The ramp from Monroe Street to eastbound I-475 is closed through Nov. 18. Detours: Secor Road and eastbound I-475.
• The ramp from North Cove Boulevard to westbound I-475 is closed through Nov. 18. Detours: Central Avenue; Upton Avenue; westbound I-475.
• The ramp from eastbound I-475 to Jeep Parkway is closed through Nov. 20. Detours: northbound I-75; Berdan Avenue (Exit 205B); Jeep Parkway.
Audet says in another year, construction will begin on I-75 past the old Jeep plant.
Sections now open:
-Sherbrooke Road, between Groveland Road and Marlow Road.
-Giant Street, between Upton Avenue and Bigelow Street.
-ProMedica Parkway bridge over I-475.
Motorists should be aware of the new traffic patterns and signals and drive with caution.