Most Expensive ODOT Project Being Built in Toledo

Mon March 13, 2006 - Midwest Edition
Linda J. Hutchinson

The largest and most expensive single project undertaken in the history of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is the Maumee River Crossing in Toledo.

This also is the first time ODOT has utilized the Program Management Consultant approach.

Funding for the $220-million construction cost has been in place since 1999. The environmental impact studies were completed in 1996.

The existing Robert Craig Memorial lift bridge will remain in place and be used for local arterial traffic when the Veterans’ Glass City Skyway is opened. The current expected completion date is December 2006.

Considered to be a major architectural, engineering, and transportation asset for northwest Ohio, the new pre-cast segmented cable-stayed bridge structure extends from south of the Greenbelt Parkway to near Seaman Street on the south end. The bridge was designed by Figg Bridge Engineers.

“This is a signature project for northwest Ohio. With a project of this scale and impact, it is imperative that community members voice their ideas and concerns,” said Gordon Proctor, ODOT director, of the commitment to involve citizens, community groups, and the public at large.

Key decisions regarding the type of bridge to be constructed, the design elements, and the land reuse options were made after 34 public meetings, 99 community presentations, and the solicitation of thousands of comments through the project Web site, newsletter, and newspaper ads.

This communication effort was facilitated through “Look Up, Toledo,” the official Web site hosted and maintained by HNTB, the prime Program Management Consultant.

According to Ken Ishmael, project manager of HNTB Corp., “HNTB was selected after the Department [ODOT] reviewed the qualifications of many consultants, then selected four of those teams to interview. The HNTB-led team offered an Ohio-based firm with accessibility to national resources.”

When completed the bridge will boast 181 piers, 190 spans, and will be 8,800 ft. (2.682 ) long. Twenty stays will radiate out from the center pylon.

The pylon, which is the centerpiece of the Veterans’ Glass City Skyway, rises 400 ft. (121 m) out of the middle of the river.

Touted as an engineering marvel, this will be the first in the United States to use a stainless steel stay-cable cradle system.

The stay-cables, which traditionally have been anchored to the pylon, will instead pass through the pylon in individual stainless steel carrier pipes.

The stays used are the largest ever constructed. Each is made up of bundles of smaller steel strands and range from 82 to 156 strands enclosed in stainless steel sheaths.

The cradle system allows the individual steel strands of each cable to be separated to prevent corrosion and prolong the bridge’s life. The center pylon is also more slender than those built in the past because of the cradle system.

Known as “The Glass City,” Toledo will become the world’s first to use glass in the pylon’s design.

Glass panels will be installed on all four sides of the pylon and illuminated by a LED lighting system. Ninety-six LED fixtures installed in each quadrant will allow the use of each primary color and an unlimited array of blended colors.

Begun as a list of potential projects in Ohio’s transportation plan around 1989, this project was then made the No. 1 regional priority by the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, and was developed by ODOT in cooperation with the Maumee River Crossing Task Force.

ODOT selected the Program Management Consultant (PMC) approach due to the design and engineering complexities, to coordinate and manage the many professional firms, and for fiscal management and control of costs, according to The Mannik & Smith Group Web site. Mannik & Smith are members of the PMC.

HNTB is the prime PMC and is the “Single Point” manager of everyone involved with the project. Other PMC Team members are Parsons Brinckerhoff, The Mannik & Smith Group, Proudfoot & Associates, and Roman Peshoff.

For the construction phase, the contracts are being managed using an integrated approach with ODOT, the PMC and the bridge designers forming a single team. This team works closely with the general contractor, Fru-Con Construction Co., of Ballwin, MO.

The project had an original completion date of November 2006. A fatal gantry crane incident that occurred in February 2004 killed four workers and injured four others and shut down mainline work for 16 months. Prior to the incident the project was on schedule to be completed in the fall of 2005.

The Maumee River Crossing Task Force has formed a committee to create a tribute to the lost and injured workers and their families and the many other men and women who worked on this monumental structure.

Replacing the equipment’s assembly and testing took longer than anticipated. The earliest the new bridge could open, even partially, is “by the end of the year,” said Mike Gramza, project manager for ODOT. Fru-Con faces stiff penalties if the project is not completed by December 23. However, weather will be taken into account to extend that completion date.

Having I-280 closed for so long has displeased some trucking companies. Keith Tuttle, president of Motor Carrier Service in Northwood, estimated it costs an additional $1,000 a day for his trucks to go around the detour.

While work on the bridge and approaches continues, plans for what to do with the approximately 44 acres of land beneath and adjacent to the interstate are being developed.

Again, the public has been invited to play a big part in the decisions made. CEG

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