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Glass Panels Mark Final Phase for Ohio Crossing
By Aileen Cho
Workers will install panels from platforms on pylon.

Marking the last major construction stage for Toledo, Ohio’s, landmark Maumee River Bridge, the 176 glass panels that will be installed on the crossing’s 404-ft-tall pylon began arriving at the site on March 29. Construction of the cabled-stayed bridge and its 1,225-ft-long main span has been marred by a fatal truss collapse and various other setbacks. But Ohio Dept. of Transportation engineers now see the light at the end of the bridge, with its opening now slated for June.

Bridge featuring innovative cable cradle is set to open this summer.

Most of the 176 panels are on average 4 ft 5 in. high, 7.5 ft wide and 1¼ in. thick, says Mike Gramza, project manager for ODOT. Weighing about 450 lb each, the panels will be lifted by crane and placed into stainless steel tracks with angled brackets by workers on platforms attached to the pylon. Panels will be screwed in and calked. When completed, they will illuminate 384 light-emitting diodes already installed on the pylon that can create 16.7 million color combinations. General contractor Frucon Construction Corp., Ballwin, Mo., subcontracted the approximate $1-million fabrication and installation to multiple firms. American Glass & Metal, Plymouth, Mich., is installing the panels. Fru-Con and ODOT wanted to begin installing the panels last year to make up for some of the troubled project’s 18 months of lost time. Instead, they had to wait.

Three suppliers in Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Wilmington, Del. fabricated the glass and bonding materials for the panels; another firm in North Carolina installed their mirrored surfaces. Before being laminated and heat-strengthened in Selma, Ala., Fru-Con, ODOT and panel fabricator Dupont felt the panels’ integrity was suspect. They sent the formed panels back to the Pennsylvania plant where workers sandblasted the panels’ perimeter to ensure the seal, says Gramza. Each panel is mirrored on one-third of its surface area to reflect the sky during the day.

Maumee River Bridge's pylon will feature LED lighting. Main Span aerial.jpeg caption: Bridge featuring innovative cable cradle is set to open this summer.

Last year, the project’s $220-million cost rose to $234 million. Total cost now may reach $241 million because the epoxy coating of the stay cables were discovered to have problems last year, says Gramza. However, he says the cables do not present any safety issues and ODOT has decided to begin reinstalling 2.2 million ft of cable stays one strand at a time after the bridge opens to 75,000 daily motorists. “Otherwise the project would be delayed another six months,” he says.

Officials with cable supplier DWYDAG-Systems International  USA Inc., Bolingbrook, Ill., did not respond to a request for comment. DSI was the supplier of the entire stay system including all epoxy-coated strands, anchors, and sheathing testing prior to building the bridge.

Fru-Con incurred about $1.74 million in late penalties through Thanksgiving of last year, says Gramza. It faces an additional $20,000 per day in penalties as of March 5.

The bridge is the second, after Maine’s Penobscot Narrows Bridge, to feature a cable-cradle system in which each cable strand goes through its own opening within a plate  resembling a cheese grater, set in the pylon.

Officially known as Veterans’ Glass City Skyway, the bridge will carry Interstate 280 across the Maumee River.


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