Five months after attending a ceremonial groundbreaking in Toledo for the I-280 bridge over the Maumee River, Mr. Taft yesterday straddled the Maumee-Perrysburg line for the official opening of the Fort Meigs Memorial Bridge.

"This new bridge will be a beautiful and useful landmark for northwest Ohio, complementing the scenic beauty of the Maumee River and nearby Fort Meigs," Mr. Taft said.

The governor drove a Jeep Liberty across the $9.1 million span.

It was his 57th visit to Lucas County since taking office in 1999.

State Rep. Lynn Olman (R., Maumee) said he began to work on the project as a Maumee city councilman in 1980, after walking his dog under the old bridge and saw "chips of concrete laying on fresh snow."

"Now we know how long it takes for a bridge project to be taken care of," Mr. Olman said.

Mr. Taft, who flew from Columbus to Wood County on a state plane, said in an interview that he expects to do better this year in Lucas County than he did in 1998, when Democrat Lee Fisher had 59.1 percent of the vote and Mr. Taft trailed at 36.3 percent.

Mr. Taft cited state support for the Valentine Theatre restoration, the new Toledo Mud Hens stadium, the Fallen Timbers battlefield, the Toledo Museum of Art, the proposed Marina and Arena districts on the East Toledo riverfront, and the proposed state park on the former Lonz Winery property on Middle Bass Island.

Lucas County Commissioner Sandy Isenberg, a Democrat who is running for re-election and who attended the bridge opening, said Mr. Taft is a "lovely man with a lovely wife."

But she said the state has done a poor job of restructuring job-training programs, and the Taft administration’s "inability to get its arms around the state budget" has put more fiscal pressure on counties.

As Mr. Taft walked toward the center of the bridge for the ceremony, 77-year-old John Burton asked him to pose for a photo and the governor agreed and even waited when the camera balked.

What Mr. Taft didn’t know is that Mr. Burton voted an absentee ballot for Mr. Taft’s Democratic opponent, Tim Hagan.

An independent who lives in Perrysburg, Mr. Burton said he did so because he is unhappy about double-digit tuition hikes at state universities, triggered by cuts in state funding.

Dee Neary, 59, a Maumee resident, said she is a Democrat who is undecided in the governor’s race.

"I haven’t heard a whole lot from [Mr. Hagan] yet. I think Taft has been good for Toledo and northwest Ohio, with all the construction on the bridges and the schools. I think the next thing is to work for the prescription-drug coverage for the senior citizens," she said.

Returning to Columbus at 11:30 a.m., Mr. Taft spent the remainder of the day preparing for the third and final debate with Mr. Hagan.

The debate will be held today in Cleveland.


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© Copyright 2008 State Representative Lynn Olman. All rights reserved.


I-280 Bridge
I was honored to work with the Northwest Ohio legislative delegation to make the Veterans Glass City Skyway a reality


The Valentine Theatre
I was happy to co-sponsor support in the State Capital budget for restoration of the Valentine Theatre.


Jeep is the heart and soul of Northwest Ohio manufacturing. I was honored to be a part of the task force to 'Keep Jeep' in Toledo.







Paid for by the Citizens for Olman, Clayton Holt, Trea