Martin Luther King Bridge to close in September for extended period of time

Martin Luther King Bridge to close in September for extended period of time

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - The Martin Luther King Bridge will be closing for almost two months.

City leaders just decided to close the bridge on September 24th.

City leaders are working with Ohio and Federal EPA to make sure they stay in compliance with the court order, lasts about 45 days.

The city says the Kapszukiewicz administration previously considered closing the bridge beginning May 14, but moved the closure date to accommodate businesses in east Toledo, such as those at The Docks restaurant complex and others that depend heavily on unimpeded traffic over the bridge during the summer months.

Business leaders at the Docks said believed that if the bridge was closed for the summer months, it would have been devastating for them

But since the project has been delayed until after the summer, they believe it won't hurt their sales as much.

The city says the closure will also not impact the Frogtown Regatta which is scheduled for September 22.

The city is also developing a plan to encourage people to continue patronizing east Toledo business with a detour to the Craig Memorial Bridge. They are also working with the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority to make sure pedestrians who use the MLK Bridge will be able to travel across the Maumee River.

East Toledo City Councilman Peter Ujvagi said this is a 'here we go again' for east Toledoans as they're no stranger to bridge construction.

The MLK Bridge has previously been shut down for a year, the high level bridge was down for rebuilding, and then the Miami street bridge was closed and then delayed because of engineering problems.

Ujvagi said the bottom line is, the closing is inevitable. But Ujvagi hopes that the Mayor's office makes it as short as possible. He pushed for the project to be pushed back until after the critical time for these businesses.

"I am urging the administration to do everything possible to not have it happen until after the end of the summer, so the summer season it would continue to be open," said Ujvagi. "We have more and more people walking to the East Side from downtown for the restaurants and for really relaxation on the riverfront, so really that is the last thing that we want to stop now."

Drivers who frequently go to the restaurants agreed that the summer is when they enjoy the area the most.

"This is prime season for the docks, I would feel very sad for them because they are going to lose a lot of business, people will just go elsewhere," said Julie Kujawa who eats the Docks often.

Many drivers said the inconvenience would keep them from coming to this side of the river, especially without using it as a way to avoid the construction downtown.

"They should wait on construction because there is already a lot going on, it's just a lot headache just with the traffic and stuff getting around downtown," said Earnest Kinney who fishes in International Park.

"Right now, everybody is gearing up for the major holidays, we have Memorial Day, we have the 4th of July, we have so much going on right now, so many things planned," said Lana Morse who is in charge of marketing for Kobe Bay at the Docks.

Morse even thought about about ways they could get customers to take boats across the river, and has tried reaching out to the Sandpiper.

This is a part of the Toledo Waterways Initiative, connecting under the bridge to a sewage storage basin. The city says the bridge must be closed for Toledo Waterways Initiative work to install an 84-inch pipe connection a combined sewer overflow to a 5.2 million-gallon storage basin under Industrial Park.

City leaders originally thought they could do this without totally closing the bridge. They even considered leaving one lane open allowing drivers to go into

east Toledo from Downtown.

The original plan was to tunnel underneath Main Street in east Toledo, but now works have to have to open it up and go almost 40 feet down to lay the 84 inch pipe.

The plan was changed for safety and engineering reasons.

Engineers and contractors have worked closely with city leaders knowing that the TWI project has a court order from the Environmental Protection Agency for this project, including a timeline.

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