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The Maumee River Crossing Project
by Michael J. Siffer, P.E., ASHE NW Ohio Section

Citizens in northwest Ohio are working with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), a Project Management Consultant (PMC) team lead by HNTB Corporation and the Maumee River Crossing Task Force (MRCTF) to design and construct a new cable-stayed bridge structure and its accompanying roadway approaches. The project will be a major architectural, engineering and transportation asset for northwest Ohio.

The Maumee River Crossing represents the largest, most expensive single project undertaken in the history of ODOT. Cost is estimated to be $270 million. The new crossing will carry six lanes of traffic on I-280, extending from Manhattan Boulevard on the north end of I-280 to Navarre Avenue on the south end. The surface of the roadway will reach about 130 feet high near the center of the river. The new bridge replaces a lift span that results in regular traffic delays during the shipping season.

Gordon Proctor, ODOT Director speaking of the Maumee River Crossing Project, "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."

In keeping with this commitment, ODOT, the MRCTF and Project Management Consultant have implemented an extensive community outreach program. The efforts included over 34 public meetings, 99 community presentations, displays and solicitation of thousands of comments through the project web site, newsletter and newspaper ads. From this input, the following key decisions were made:

Type of bridge
The design process for the I-280/Maumee River Crossing Project began in April of 1999. The first task, and an area of intense public involvement, was the selection of a bridge type. In October of 1999, after nearly half a year of evaluation and public outreach, ODOT selected the cable-stayed bridge (pictured) as the bridge type that would span the Maumee River. The cable-stayed design was also the favorite of citizens who participated in public meetings

The bridge design, developed by Figg Bridge Engineers, incorporates design elements selected by the public at workshops held in April and May 2000. These elements include:

  • A single pylon
  • A single plane of cable stays in a fan-like arrangement
  • Glass incorporated into the pylon viewable from all four directions
  • Top of the pylon to be a focal point
  • A prismatic pylon top
  • Lighting used on cable stays and on the pylon below the roadway deck
  • Lighting of the pylon, behind the glass, using color
  • A partially solid bridge railing
  • Low maintenance cable stays of stainless steel

The new I-280 Maumee River Bridge will be a prominent addition to the Toledo skyline. The graphic above compares the size of the new bridge design with the existing Anthony Wayne Bridge and the Owens-Illinois building, the tallest building in downtown Toledo. Height measurements are from water level.

Themes used in the bridge design
The Maumee River Crossing Task Force conducted three months of public outreach to determine a theme for this signature project. On February 25, 2000, the Task Force recommended a Transportation theme for the main corridor of the project, an Industry/Glass theme for the main bridge span to commemorate Toledo's history as the Glass City and a Natural Resources theme for the land reuse areas. ODOT accepted the recommendation on March 4, 2000.

Land reuse options for open spaces left behind
What to do with the land under and around the new bridge when I-280 becomes an elevated roadway was another important issue taken to the public. There are approximately 44 acres that lie beneath and adjacent to the interstate, the approaches and the exit ramps that will become open space when the bridge is complete. The elevated approaches for the new structure begin near the Greenbelt Parkway for Southbound I-280 and Ravine Park for Northbound I-280.

After five months of public input and five public meetings the recommendation for this reusable land was to fill the trench area in north Toledo and reconnect the streets to reunite the neighborhoods. And, for both east and north Toledo the decision was to leave some contouring to the land, not to impede access to the river and to use the limited land resources in the most efficient way.

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