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Latins United, SS. Peter & Paul concerned about road closures; a follow-up public meeting is planned March 15

 

By La Prensa Staff

 

Toledo city engineers recently closed Emerald Ave. near I-75 as the next phase of an interstate widening project gets underway, which has left an entire Old South End neighborhood and its popular destinations seemingly on a peninsula with limited access.

 

Maumee Ave. already is closed because of a bridge project, while access to the Anthony Wayne Trail via Emerald and City Park are shut down because of delays to the ongoing replacement of a bridge over a busy east-west railroad line.

 

That means three major access points to the area from the AW Trail and Broadway St. are now closed to traffic—all at the same time. The only way in or out of the neighborhood where Latins United and SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church are located is from downtown Toledo via Erie St.

 

“People are having trouble getting to there now,” said Chevo Torres, president of Latins United. “The events we’re having now, people are asking ’How do we get over there?’ We’re really worried about it. Why can’t they wait until those two bridges are done?”

 

Both groups hosted a meeting Friday evening, March 8, 2019 at SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church attended by about 15 people. Father Juan Molina told the crowd his church is losing $500 per week, money that is desperately needed by a congregation and a church that already operates on a bare-bones budget. Toledo City Council member Peter Ujvagi, a police representative, and highway project officials also attended the meeting to hear concerns and answer questions.

 

Torres blames “a lack of communication” and bad timing from city and Ohio Dept. of Transportation (ODOT) officials for the uncertain situation. He hopes neighborhood leaders can get city engineers to make whatever adjustments are necessary to reopen more access to the neighborhood.

 

Retired city prosecutor Arturo Quintero will act as a go-between among the parties involved. A follow-up meeting is planned Friday, March 15, 6 p.m., at the church. The public is invited to attend.

 

Right now, Emerald Ave. near I-75 is scheduled to be closed until sometime in November. But SS. Peter and Paul hosts its annual August festival and Latins United is teaming up with El Corazón de México Ballet Folklorico for a September street festival. Attendance at both annual fundraisers could suffer greatly without better access for visitors.

 

“It is important to work in communion with the community,” said Fr. Molina.

 

Gary Stuckey with the city’s transportation department told the gathering the Anthony Wayne Trail work would be finished in November at the soonest, but there was the possibility of opening a right-hand turn only option at City Park Ave., once road construction reached a point in July when traffic lanes would be flipped to the other side of the median.

 

Stuckey stated the Maumee Ave. bridge is scheduled to be completed in August. But both projects are dependent on getting enough “track time” from the railroad to complete work. So far, Norfolk-Southern Railroad has run its trains on a fairly regular schedule without many alterations.

 

Another possibility, according to Stuckey, is to maintain one lane of traffic on Emerald Ave., with a traffic light controlling the flow of vehicles in either direction. But ODOT engineers would have to be convinced that is a viable option, he stated.

 

“The other issue is funding. We turn this money away now, they don’t save it for another day for us. That’s why some of this had to move forward all at the same time,” said Stuckey. “Once the money just kind of dropped in our lap, we had to go.”

 

Questions over emergency response have been addressed. The Toledo Fire Dept. already had made arrangements to access an emergency-only route at City Park from the Anthony Wayne trail to get fire trucks and ambulances to calls in that neighborhood. Toledo police now plan to make similar arrangements. Otherwise, response times would be slow at best if emergency vehicles had to go downtown first to gain access to the neighborhood.

 

Parishioners and Latino community leaders also advocated for better signage offering detours and warnings that turning onto certain side streets would lead to a dead end. Out-of-town parishioners who don’t know the city streets often attend Mass at SS. Peter and Paul.

 

“Is there any possibility of suspending some of the work? If not, is there any possibility of speeding up some of the work?” asked councilman Ujvagi during the meeting. “What are the options that we have? This is something I’m going to keep working on until we at least alleviate the problems that we face.”

 

 

 
Copyright © 1989 to 2019 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 03/12/19 09:06:29 -0800.

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