Grassroots Democracy: A Battle Over Highway Expansion with Peggy Daly-Masternak

One of the basic benefits we enjoy as citizens of a democracy like the United States is our right to address grievances to our elected officials if we feel they are not making appropriate decisions. The I-475 Neighborhoods Coalition is made up of citizens wanting to stop a planned widening of the freeway in Toledo. We talk to the coordinator Peggy Daly-Masternak.

Episode 78: Grassroots Democracy: A Battle Over Highway Expansion with Peggy Daly-Masternak

In this episode, we confront the realities of urban development and its impact on local communities. Peggy Daly-Masternak, coordinator of the I-475 Neighborhoods Coalition, sits down with us to discuss the group’s determined fight against the proposed widening of Interstate 475 in Toledo. Peggy details the coalition’s efforts to ensure that the voices of affected neighborhoods are heard, and she sheds light on the concerning issues of increased noise, pollution, and the potential for hazardous material transport.

Peeling back the layers of this complex issue, we uncover a history of urban planning decisions that have long-term consequences for city residents. Peggy provides a compelling argument against the expansion project, citing alarming data on traffic congestion, safety, and the alarming costs associated with the project. With a mix of personal stories and hard facts, this episode is a deep dive into the democratic process and the ongoing struggle for community rights in the face of large-scale infrastructure projects.

*Editor’s Note*: While recording this episode, both the host and guest mention, several times, the subject section of freeway was opened in 1972. Peggy Daly-Masternak notified us afterward that the freeway in question opened to traffic in 1970. We appologize for the error but we are not able to correct it in the recording without redoing the episode.

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Our Guest

Peggy Daly-Masternak

Peggy Daly-Masternak is the coordinator for the I-475 Neighborhoods Coalition and a 40 year veteran of grassroots democracy. She loves to jump down rabbit holes of research to hold our government accountable to the people affected by policies and laws.


I-475 Neighborhoods Coalition

I-475 Neighborhoods Coalition Facebook Group

West Toledo resident voices concerns over I-475 widening project (video)

I-475 East/West Improvement Project (ODOT Project Page)


Read full transcript here

Voice Over: This is Glass city humanist, a show about humanism, humanist values by a humanist. Here is your host, Douglas Berger.

Doug Berger: One of the basic benefits we enjoy as citizens of a democracy like the United States is our right to address grievances to our elected officials if we feel they are not making appropriate decisions. The I 475 neighborhoods coalition is made up of citizens wanting to stop a planned widening of the freeway in Toledo. We talked to the coordinator, Peggy Daly Masternak.

Voice Over: Glass City Humanist is an outreach project of the secular humanists of western Lake Erie. Building community through compassion and reason for a better tomorrow.

I 475 neighborhoods coalition is opposing widening of interstate 475 in Toledo

Doug Berger: Our guest today is Peggy Daly Masternak. She is from the I 475 neighborhoods coalition and her group is opposing a, widening of the interstate 475 here in Toledo. For, those of you who are not in the Toledo area, the section, it’s actually, How many is it? About a mile, 4.9 miles. 4.9 miles. It’s in the northern part of town and it is the leg after Douglas road and where it attaches to the US 23 interchange in Sylvania. it is going to be, I think after they’re working on the one down by Maumee. I think it’s the last section that has not been widened, I think of 475 because I think it’s pretty much. Pretty much all widened, perhaps from Perrysburg to.

Peggy Daly Masternak: Yeah, that might not be done, but yeah.

Doug Berger: Okay. And so I thank you. Thank you for being with us today. and so just briefly, what is the I 475 neighborhoods coalition and how.

Peggy Daly Masternak: Did it get started in 2020? ODOT sent letters to the neighborhood close by. Neighborhoods. I live 475ft, coincidentally from my 475. So I was included in the mailing and, already found the highway to be, intrusive, way more than it was when we bought our home a long time ago. Truck traffic has majorly increased. There’s a lot of speeding, a lot of racing that goes on and it causes noise and pollution at my home. So, on five days notice, I believe we organized, flyering in the neighborhoods. And well over 100 people turned out for that outdoor meeting. At the height of COVID we social distanced, and there wasn’t a single speaker who came to the open mic that we had that supported it. Many people had concerns about the noise and the pollution, expense, the costs, the taxpayer dollars that could be repurposed someplace else. Lots of different reasons were expressed for opposition. we don’t know why, but ODOt kind of stopped the planning or put it on a back burner. Or COVID obviously changed life for everybody. But all of a sudden, we got a word that in the spring of 2023, ODOT was continuing the planning process, not including the neighbors this time at all. so they had a list of 82 handpicked stakeholders. some on the list included the arts commission, two seats for the arts commission. several people who we’ve spoken to included an elected official since said, I had no idea I was one of the 82 stakeholders. Neighbors were purposely not included, even though their consulting, engineer in the interim period told them, you need to include neighborhoods. There was such opposition to this before. Don’t exclude the neighbors. And they didn’t. They just kept planning. and so we organized another meeting, again, same method, flyering the neighborhoods. Another hundred people came to the Sanger library in July of 2023, and again, no one spoke in support. At that point in time, we organized the steering committee and really started actively working to oppose. So, we had one other meeting in October, and again, same method, same number of people came. No one spoke in favor. These are people who live in the neighborhoods or people who feel they have a vested interest in what happens in Toledo. So all of that organizing, I am the coordinator for the I 475 neighborhoods group, and we are working continuously to try to, number one, get fair hearing to the neighborhood concerns. And number two, you know, we believe that whatever the plan alternatively would be for that, it needs to be including the people who will be living with it every day. And we’ve been purposely excluded. And that’s the historical, model for the Ohio department of Transportation.

Doug Berger: And about how many members, do you currently have active in your group?

Peggy Daly Masternak: On the mailing list, there’s probably 250 to 300.

Doug Berger: And are they all, everybody that’s affected by this widening, or are you open to people outside the area?

Peggy Daly Masternak: No, we’re open. Any taxpayer in the state of Ohio is going to be paying for this while they pay for everything else. But the majority, of course, come from the area, the, neighborhoods in that area. And there’s multiple neighborhoods along this 4.9 miles stretch.

Doug Berger: And what specific issues do you have with the widening? Why does your group oppose it? Besides them excluding the neighbors from, from.

Peggy Daly Masternak: Being the stakeholders, and that is a big one. But air pollution, the American Lung association says the particulate matter from highways, childhood asthma, heart conditions, lung, conditions, respiratory issues, even premature death. That’s from the American Lung association. With your close, the closer your proximity is to a highway, the more likely that’s to happen. The noise markedly has increased since I’ve been in my home for 40 years. The, noise is incredibly loud, and that’s because it’s become a major truck route. We took noise analysis using professional audiology approved decibels, meters in 2021. Woman inside her home at 08:00 in the morning on a Tuesday morning with the window opened, was taking readings off her kitchen windowsill of 102 decibels. You start to lose your hearing at 70. Most people who, especially those who are really close, can’t enjoy their yard at all. The, noise level is incredible. the, costs are obscene, especially when we could use those monies for so many other places. And we find out little details, all along. So, for instance, Norfolk Southern railroad has a bridge just west of Holland, Sylvania Road. ODoT, in their plan, is gifting a brand new spankin new bridge to Norfolk Southern Railroad as a part of the expansion plan, costing $12.4 million, which is more than 10% of the entire construction costs for the whole highway. Norfolk Southern Railroad is. Is of all the corporations that we shouldn’t be gifting anything to in Ohio right now, Norfolk Southern tops the list after what they did to the people in East Palestine and continuing to do there. and when we look at costs, the Lucas county jail, which is now being built, was contracted with 5% in contingencies. So if we have a global supply chain problem or we have weather problems or whatever in the building they put into the contract, 5%. My husband worked in the private sector. That’s a similar, pad, if you will, to construction contracts for capital improvements in the private sector. The pad on this contract for 4.9 miles of highway is 61%. So we pad the contract. The costs already start out with a giant, giant, dollar amount, including 12.4 million that’s given to Norfolk Southern Railroad in their brand new bridge, and we pad the contract on top of it by 61%. That doesn’t include property acquisition. That doesn’t include design costs, which they’ve already gotten from the state of Ohio to design it easily. This is the last number that we have is 186 million total. That doesn’t include those things. So this is easily $200 million of highway. That isn’t necessary to begin with.

Doug Berger: And why do you think it’s costing so much in their patent? So much?

Peggy Daly Masternak: The explanation that was given to us when we asked this question was, it’s just the way we do things was basically what was said.

Doug Berger: and when was that section of I 475 built?

Peggy Daly Masternak: 1972. It opened when they opened it. It’s an interesting quote from the blade. The head of what was then called the highways department, the Ohio Highways department, had been the head of the highways department here in Toledo, prior to that moving up. And his statement was, quote, we’ve opened a sleeping giant in the western areas, past Toledo. And boy, did they ever. So we’ve lost population because of white flight to the suburbs. All the wealthy suburbs have just sucked dry the population in the city of Toledo and therefore taken the income tax, the property tax, the spending habits, all of that has now gone to the western suburbs. And it’s been a major loss. I mean, they facilitated with expressways, just as they did in practically every other community that I am talking to, and we’re talking nationally, exact same thing. The white flight occurred as the, expressways and highways were created in cities. And it was used specifically. It’s part of the plan for slum, removal all the way back to the 1940s. 1956 Eisenhower administration gets created for doing this. It really goes back to Roosevelt in, before. And they were open about what they were going to do to the neighborhoods that were going to be ripped through to take out the black business community, the black residential community. All the strength of those neighborhoods was completely destroyed.

(Editors Note The section of I-475 at the heart of the debate was opened in 1970 , not 1972)

Doug Berger: Because they assumed that that was,

Peggy Daly Masternak: The, slums, right?

Doug Berger: Yes, they assumed it was the slums instead of a vibrant, successful, community.

Peggy Daly Masternak: Correct. And so, in many cities. I haven’t found the data for Toledo yet, but believe me, I’m historically looking at it. they refused. They would redline the areas. I have the redline maps from the city of Toledo. The highway ripped through where the redlining was done. One, two. those municipalities were often preventing citizens from having sewage and water. Therefore, you’re going to wind up with what they classified as slums. Right? So we can’t buy property because the banks are redlining us, and we don’t have proper utilities and sanitation on our properties. And then the next step becomes, let’s use those for the footprint, for the highways that we’re going to build. And that model literally comes from a federal directives, and Toledo seized on it immediately. By 1949, the local chamber of commerce was buying into that lock, stock and barrel.

Doug Berger: Now, I did, as I mentioned before we started recording it, you had, gotten a, friend of ours, a mutual friend of ours, to get some materials from the library that included 19, fifties, 1940 era highway, planning guides. And what was interesting about it was that the routing that currently exists for the highways today is pretty much how they had it set up in the forties, except for one part. I noticed the I 75 is closer to the river than it was in some of those planning guides.

Peggy Daly Masternak: Closer to the river.

Doug Berger: At what point, when it comes from downtown Toledo, I noticed that it was over a little bit further closer, you know, because it still comes through Ottawa park and in it. And it kind of went more towards the southwest or southeast? Southwest. Instead of it curves more this way.

Peggy Daly Masternak: Now, Doug, we could do a whole hour on the history.

Doug Berger: Right, right. But it was just interesting. It was just interesting to me that they pretty much knew where they were going to put this highway, you know, 30 years or more before they built it.

Peggy Daly Masternak: Yes. Well, the thing is, is that they, There were changes. For instance, my 475ft away, in one plan, my house was gone. Okay? So they shifted it and shifted it and shifted it. Where the contentious illegal, maybe the sunshine law didn’t exist back then, it should have. The contentious and secret meetings that were held were so much about what was referred to as the downtown distributor, which, by the way, never got built. I asked the director of the plans commission, why didn’t the distributor get built? And he said, probably money. No, it wasn’t. It was ego. And there were two conflicting plans. And for those of your Toledo listeners, one was to take out 12th street, which would have taken out the Jefferson center, St. Paul’s, United Methodist Church, and whatever else has been removed since then, probably 13th to 11th would have been gone, too. So the Toledo club people would be looking out on the expressway, or the downtown distributor, the, library would be looking out on the expressway and anything along those three blocks. The competing plan, just as bad, was to put it on the riverfront. And there they were going to have a two tier elevated highway, one direction on the top level, one direction on the bottom level, and eventually that got expanded to four lanes on top and four lanes on the bottom. And all the parking for the downtown workers was going to be set up along the riverbanks themselves. So when we think of Toledo today and what everybody considers to be the gem of the downtown that’s being rehabilitated, none of that would have been available because there would have been a two tier elevated highway. The egos competed and competed and competed. And that’s why eventually, I believe, that part of the plan went away. However, the rest of the plan, shifting it, moving it through the old west end, the Libby house, at one point in time, was going to be taken.

Doug Berger: yeah, that’s the one area they did end up avoiding completely was the old west end. And we know why, because that’s where the hoi polloi was living exactly at the time.

Peggy Daly Masternak: And the hoi pole were the ones who were making the decisions in secret. There were ten months at least, I’ve documented ten months at least, of secret meetings held by people who were active in the chamber of commerce, and got themselves named to the Toledo Plan commission. So the idea that all of that planning, whether it was this downtown distributor, that never materialized or the remainder of it, it wasn’t the neighborhoods, they were not included. And in fact, I just did 4 hours more of historical research this past Monday at the Toledo Library, and I found a report from 1973, and it was the Ohio Department of Transportation, along with Timacog, but, the precursor to Timacog, and I’m sorry, right off the top of my head, their name escapes me. The action plan, the Toledo regional Action Plan was a precursor to Temacog, and it was from 1973. And it opens by flat out saying, we did a terrible job of public relations when it came to building the highways, so we’re all going to do better. And they held multiple neighborhood meetings, and they put a quarter page out in the blade that at the time, 1973, cost almost $500. And, they did everything they possibly could to include neighborhood input into what do we do next with more highways. They were actually still planning more highways at that point, but included the residents, included the citizens. Whether it was real or phony democracy, at least in this report, it appears that they made an attempt at democratically fixing the problems that they created by not including residents. So for your listeners, who I believe, I asked you before we started, do secular humanists believe in democracy? And you tell me they do. None of this was democratically held. And to this day, it’s still not being democratic.

Doug Berger: Yeah. And I think that people need to understand that just because something exists today doesn’t mean that that was the best solution to whatever problem they were trying to address.

Peggy Daly Masternak: Correct.

Doug Berger: And so it’s more than open to changing the way things were done previously. It’s like you said, that stretch of I 475 was opened in 19, 72. Well, they had a totally different idea about how to build highways in 1972. So that your house is 475, 74ft from the highway today. I think the setback is a lot further now, standardized standard, which means that they, if they built that today, they probably would take your, for sure take your house, perhaps. Yeah, because they’re also, they also want to, when they plant it. They want to, build in possible widening later on, so they’ll take more land than they need. Like, when they built that, interchange at Dorr street, they took far more land than they actually needed for that interchange.

Peggy Daly Masternak: Exactly. And so this puts us on a path of endless highway expansion, whether it’s needed or not. I mentioned to you before starting, that the. Well, you bring up door street, so I’ll talk about that. Since Dorr street opened, since the interchange opened, in the interim period, from right before it started to be constructed, 2017 to 2023, there’s been a 13.5% increase in traffic. Okay. They didn’t take care of congestion. They induced congestion. And that’s in spite of the fact that in that same period, actually, I don’t have 23 2023 for Lucas county yet, but up to 2022, in that same period, from 2017 to 2022, the entire county has lost 6.2% in population. So they’re inducing people to take more trips to. Heretofore, they may have said, you know, well, let’s combine that trip, or let’s say, oh, no, we can just jump on the expressway, because the expressway is faster. It’s not faster. It’s not. It’s not. It’s just inducing more traffic to come.

Doug Berger: Now, if I remember right, and please correct me if I’m wrong, that the reason they built the door street interchange was to relieve traffic at Central Avenue.

Peggy Daly Masternak: That’s what they say.

Doug Berger: Do you know if Central Avenue traffic has been reduced compared to before?

Peggy Daly Masternak: My own personal experience would be, no, but I don’t, again, don’t have the numbers on that. I think what drove it was. And this is the weeds for your listeners who don’t live in Toledo. Secor Road was under great threat of being expanded to take out people’s homes on either side of Secor Road between Central Avenue and. And Bancroft. Who was driving that was the University of Toledo. They wanted a gateway to the university, even though they already had a gateway in a couple of places. No, we want another gateway. Also, what drove that was Dana, and the Inverness club, as they were preparing for the great big golf tournament that they knew was coming, and Toledo rolled over for it, the city of Toledo rolled over for it, and the Ottawa Hills folks on the opposite side of the street put up the biggest fight, and the project was stopped. So our understanding. This is all secondhand, third hand information, I’ll offer that. But our understanding was those three big institutions that I just named, got together and said, well, fine, we’ll put it at Door street. And so that’s how Dorr street got created. I don’t know how much it had to do with relieving congestion on Central Avenue.

Doug Berger: I just remember reading some of the news articles about it. That was one of the impetus, and I think the one that they’re building off of us 20 down further south, I think, is also part of that, because I guess people were complaining. Not, people, but the powers that be were complaining that there wasn’t enough access from Maumee and Perrysburg.

Peggy Daly Masternak: Today’s urban planners will tell you flat out that increasing highway expansions does not relieve congestion. All it does is produce more. Therefore, you create more, therefore, you expand more, therefore you then get the same kind of congestion. And when you have an obscene budget as ODOT has. That was the other point. I was going to bring up ODOT’s current biennial budget. I’m sorry, the Ohio transportation budget. 85% of all that money spent goes to ODOT, and most of it is for capital improvements. So ODOT’s budget in this biennium is $11.4 billion. Okay. In a two year period. And out of that $11.4 billion, they are dedicating 123.6 million, 1% to public transit. That’s straight out of the legislative services commission. Two page analysis. It’s in the packet, on, where the money is getting spent. So. Ok. It’s like a snake eating its own tail. They just keep feeding themselves and feeding themselves and feeding themselves to justify their own existence.

Doug Berger: Hello, this is Douglas, host of the glass City humanist, inviting you to listen to selected segments of the glass City humanist on Toledo community radio station WAKT 106.1 FM. Tuesdays at 07:00 p.m. Eastern time. If you can’t listen to us on the radio, you can live stream us on or visit our on Wakt page on our website, glasscityhumanist show for past episodes.

Doug Berger: One of the tools that your group uses is, Well, I’m going to. I probably should have asked the question rather than assuming, but one of the tools that your group uses is public records requests, correct? All right, how does that work? What’s the process? If somebody wanted to do a public records request for whatever issue that they’re. That they’re interested about, how does somebody go about and do that?

Peggy Daly Masternak: Many places I know, like, for instance, the auditor’s office here in Lucas county, you fill out a form and you tell them exactly what you want for ODOT. All we’ve done is written letters. Pursuant to the chapter and verse out of Ohio revised code. We are hereby requesting these records. and then we list those records and send it to, You can be easily sent to the public information officer at ODOT. That is Kelsey Hoagland. she is in district two, which is in Bowling Green.

Doug Berger: That’s in the district that includes Toledo, correct.

Peggy Daly Masternak: bowling green covers pretty much the whole northwest western corner of Ohio. The county’s there. and so a public records request for any information that they’re looking for, oftentimes what you get back is Oda doesn’t have that information, so be prepared for that, even though, frankly, our view would be they should.

One of the pieces you asked before, Doug, one of my biggest, biggest concerns after the East Palestine disaster caused by Norfolk Southern, and by the way, many people don’t know, that train came through Toledo that day and, derailed in East Palestine. and so one of my biggest concerns is hazmat. And the reason for that is, in fall of 2025, the Gordie Howe Bridge International, largest port of entry between the United States and Canada, already, will open this bank and new bridge between, the two, cities, one in Detroit and Windsor, Canada. when it opens, all current hazmat restrictions that are applied to the ambassador bridge will be lifted. If you’re a hazmat hauler right now, and certain categories are limited anywhere to be international transport. But my understanding, and I’m trying to pin this down right now, is there’s nine categories of Hazmat and the how bridge will accommodate the majority, if not all of them. if you’re a current hazmat hauler, you’ve either had to go an hour further north in either country to get to the blue water bridge that crosses Lake, Huron, and near Sarnia, Sarnia on the canadian side and Port Huron on the US side, and then come an hour back down to basically begin where you started from. If you were going south on I 75 or vice versa on the 401 in Canada, or you had to hire a barge to barge your hazmat hall across the Detroit river, you can’t come through the Detroit Windsor tunnel. And the ambassador bridge has been restricted, depending on whose information you’re reading, between 71 hundred years of hazmat restrictions, that’s all lifted. So, believe me, the trucking industries are salivating for the opening of that bridge. We can expect much greater demands on hazmat being brought. And I counted all the way to, I got to Georgia. And I had to stop from Sault Ste. Marie to, Michigan to Florida with a couple of more states to be calculated. I was already calculating population centers right on 75 to be 10 million. And all the branching, such as done at 475, that’s not even including. So, for instance, in our community, right through Toledo, the branch goes all the way over to Sylvania, Perrysburg, Holland, Monclova. All of those are not even included because I was only looking at the population of the main parts of the community. So one hazmat accident, such as East Palestine, what would we do? You know, polyvinyl chloride is hauled by trucks just like it’s hauled by rail call along with a whole bunch of other stuff that we really don’t want overturning on the interstate.

Doug Berger: Yeah, I know. Down, because I lived down in Columbus for many years, and they have 71 and 70. That goes right through downtown. And it is, hazmat. trucks are banned from taking 70 or 71 through downtown. So they have to use the outer belt. Well, it’s not actively enforced, nor is.

Peggy Daly Masternak: It on the ambassador, from what I understand.

Doug Berger: Right. So if you know how to finagle your. Your stuff, you can still do it. So, yeah, that is a very concern. now, again, getting back to public records, have you been denied public records? I mean, outright denied? Not just that they didn’t have the information, but, not to my memory. Okay.

Peggy Daly Masternak: the last one that we did asking for, we put one to them in January, and what we got back was many places, one word or one line. ODot does not have that data. ODot does not have that data. But if you’re planning a highway and it’s going to hold hazmat, that was one that they answered. We don’t have that data. I think that they have to calculate in how many trucks, the weight of those trucks, what they’re hauling. First responders need to know what’s on those trucks, and they didn’t know what was in the train cars. So as many corporations will do, anything we can do to skirt regulatory control, we will do.

Doug Berger: Now, you had sent me some copies of your group’s newsletter, and in that newsletter, you had a letter from, Pete Gerken, the, Lucas county commissioners, that they support your position not to widen the highway. Does Lucas county have that much say since it’s in the city of Toledo? I mean, do they, would they have, beyond the political influence of talking to their partners, would they have any way of stopping it? Well, could they stop it?

Peggy Daly Masternak: We hope so, because it’s being opposed in city after city after city, and many elected officials are getting behind it. the idea that they have the connections that the people who were not included in the discussion don’t, have is clearly one thing. Number two, once the highways are built and odot moves on to the next poor community that they’re going to, you know, inflict this on, the externalities are absorbed by the cities. So that pollution and noise and health concerns that we talked about before will be on the backs of either the city of Toledo, Sylvania Township, or the Lucas county commissioners. The hazmat cleanup. I would challenge anybody to call the city officials in East Palestine and say, how much of the cost have you had to absorb as a community for the hazmat horde thing that happened in your neighborhood or in your city? all of the externalities, as they often are, by people who push for the needs of corporations and not push for the needs of communities and citizens and cities. The externalities are always outsourced to the municipalities, never absorbed by the. The, corporations that insist, that they’re going to have their way. And this is part of that. We know the chamber of commerce is behind this. We looked up the addresses of the people who were in the chamber. There’s 42 members of their board, other than four who live in the city of Toledo, none of whom live in this neighborhood. All the remainder of them live in the white western suburbs that we gifted with an expressway right to their front door. So, you know, this is how we know. I know after 40 years, I know this is how it works. But to get the support of the Lucas county commissioner, president, to get the support of the mayor, and just today, another, our second national organization called America walks has, put out a letter. That’s an exemplary letter. we did a public, press release today. We’re presenting it to city council, although they’ve already gotten copies today, on the idea that this is not necessary and forward thinking communities are stopping highway expansions and not, you know, moving forward. This is not just Toledo, a couple of whiny people in Toledo. This is across the country. That group, America walks, recently led the call for a moratorium on highway expansions anywhere in the country, and within days had 200 different groups endorsing. And I think thousands of people have signed on individually since.

Doug Berger: All right. and you have a lot of data.

Peggy Daly Masternak: hm.

Doug Berger: You showed me your map that you worked with the Lucas county, auditor’s office, and you did a decibel readings and things like that. we’ve just come through a pandemic where we had a lot of people doing their own research. So how would you answer somebody who would be not, who would be skeptical about you doing your own research in this issue? Like, you know, do you. Do you consult with the professionals, like urban planners and civil engineers, or do you just, you know, just come up with your own? With your own?

Peggy Daly Masternak: We have. But much of the data that we have, much of the data that we have is out of ODOT’s own materials. So the costs that I referred to before, 186 million. And then the property, acquisition and design costs on top of that, right out of Oste, one, of the pieces that we didn’t cover, they came in with two rationales for doing this, and they’ve never left that page. Never. No matter what has been brought up to them. One is they’re claiming congestion and one is safety. Okay, so the congestion issue. Okay. The federal highway administration has a, database, complex database. You can go online and find it for yourself. And out of that federal highway database, the eastbound lanes of 475, out of about 11,000 different, bottlenecks, they call them, that they look at on highways across the country. Out of those 11,000, the eastbound lanes of I 475 ranks 8664th. The average delay time if you are delayed is 1 minute. The westbound, very close, 7608th, if you’re delayed, it’s 1.2 minutes. And so compare that to the number one on their list, which is I 95, the Cross Bronx expressway or Parkway expressway, through New York City. Your average delay time sitting, waiting in traffic on that stretch of highway is 47 minutes.

Doug Berger: I have.

Peggy Daly Masternak: Okay. Yeah, I have as well.

Doug Berger: Several years ago. Yes, I have.

Peggy Daly Masternak: So the idea that there’s a bit of congestion, you might slow down. That’s called rush hour in America. You’re going to find that wherever you go, not just here. The other one is out of ODOT’s data, where they analyzed four different scenarios. No build, and three alternatives. In every single one of those, they came up with the number of fatalities, and injuries that were involved. Okay. And, in fact, any one of the three alternatives will build it this way, this way, or this way. The increase in fatalities went up by 29%. That’s out of their data. The incapacitating injuries rose as well. The only thing that was saved, that was better was, less fender benders. Well, I believe, and I think our group believes that people are more important than property. So if you’re going to build a highway, you better reduce all of those numbers. When they talk about safety, they’ll tell you two things. There’s been two fatalities and four serious accidents in the study period that they did. Period. End of conversation. Go look at their data to see that the accidents involved the two drivers who were killed. Neither were wearing seatbelts. There was, alcohol involved. There was a motorcycle involved in one of the crashes where somebody, I believe was not a, fatality and injury. There was speeding involved. There was texting and driving. There was all of these scenarios that they put in their own data that show why those accidents happened. None of that will be mitigated by a highway expansion. In fact, it will get worse, because what they plan on doing is six lanes. But now they’ve added two additional lanes, so it’ll be eight lanes between Secor and Tallmadge. And I find that when I’m going, and they call them auxiliary lanes, people don’t look at it as an auxiliary lane. They look at it to get around the gray haired lady who’s in front of them going 65 miles an hour, and they want to go 80 miles an hour. So they’ll weave in and out, and we probably will wind up with even more accidents than ODOT was projecting. So when you ask about our data, much of our data is either the historical research going to the plan commission and going through their library, or going through the Toledo Lucas County Library and looking at the history of the planning and how they got done, or it’s using ODOT’s own data to refute everything that they’re saying. So we asked about the map that they submitted. How come you skewed the numbers so badly? To show that there was less than half residential in this area and a whole bunch more commercial. And they said, oh, that’s not an important thing. And that just goes to what’s called the transportation review advisory council. It’s known as track. It’s not a big deal.

Doug Berger: Yeah. What they’re doing is they’re skewing the impact.

Peggy Daly Masternak: Right, exactly. And to them, that’s not a big deal. To those of us who live there, it’s a very big deal. I promise.

Doug Berger: Well, all I know is, you know, I’ve driven that section. had, my girlfriend broke down in that section, and trying to assist her at the side of the road was hella scary, mainly because of the speeders, the trucks speeding through that area. And you have maybe this much space from the breakdown lane to the main lane, you know, and so you know, it’s scary to. And I think the other thing too, that they are concerned about too, are when there’s breakdowns that there’s not, you know, it’s not. It’s harder to unclog it.

Peggy Daly Masternak: But, yeah, the pavement is likely. Okay, so one of the scenarios that they studied was no build. They studied it. The pavement may be due for an upgrade.

Doug Berger: Yeah, I’m sure that’s probably why they’re messing with it now is because they’re going to have to rebuild it anyway.

Peggy Daly Masternak: Okay. So at that point in time, if it’s real, if the pavement has deteriorated to a point, and I’m not saying that this would be my preferred way of handling the whole situation, but I’ll go with it. They can add at that point in time, a wider margin on m. The majority, I’m sure, of the expressway. They already have the right of way along that highway all the way up to their sound walls, which, by the way, the sound walls are already scheduled to be pushed back literally up to people’s property line. Some people have a buffer, no more. That’s gone. many people say I will move if they put in a sound wall. And there’s a whole bunch of different things you can say about sound walls. And maybe it’s just my anecdotal stories will be treated as.

So I won’t even go there. But the widening of the existing pavement could occur if they redid the, expansion. The second thing I’ll say is, for every anecdotal story that I’ve heard, such as the one that you just provided, I can provide some anecdotal stories. I’d like to talk about the woman whose backyard backs up to the expressway. She didnt know that she was going to have an autistic grandchild whenever she bought the house. She is a retired person on a limited income, so she cant afford to move. And her grandson cannot come to grandmas house because the highway noise is so sensory, depriving to him. He just goes crazy when hes there because of the sensory issues that he has. I can tell you about the person who doesn’t want to move because the partner that he has is infirm and he’s caring for her. He doesn’t want, at this stage of their lives, retired people to pack up and move. I can tell you about all the people who have told me saying, I’m not sinking another dime into my property, okay? Because I don’t know if my property is going to be taken, whether it’s my house or just another strip of my backyard so that I’m even closer, or I just don’t want to live with the depreciating property values. so yeah, we have some anecdotal stories too, about the harms that are going to come from the highway. Not counting. I mean, somebody really needs to take a look at what the asthma rate is for those neighborhoods who are on highways in Toledo, Ohio already. That’s not my purview. I wish somebody with the purview to do it, would do it.

Doug Berger: Now, as we discussed before that, that section of highway was opened in 1972. So how would you address somebody today in 2024? that would say, well, why would you buy a house next to a highway if you don’t like it?

Peggy Daly Masternak: Well, I live 475ft, and when I bought my house, I didn’t have the. We occasionally heard the traffic on the expressway. Now it’s incredibly loud all the time. The Jake brakes that the trucks are now using as they slow down reverberate off the walls of my home. I hear it when I’m inside my home. So I don’t know how far away you have to get before you, escape highways. And who knows? Someday they may put a highway down where you live. and you bought your house and you didn’t think that was something you’d have to deal with. When I 475, called the West Toledo Expressway, was built from I 75 to us 23, we looked at the census data from 1960. It was virtually all white neighborhoods. Probably because of redlining, probably because of, deed covenants. Those types of things were going on. The displacement for I 75 was almost 4600 people that were displaced from I 280 to the river, not counting what goes past 280. And what was displaced, the people that were displaced only from I 75 to Secor Road, because beyond that it was still Washington Township. So they only studied that point. The number of people who were displaced was 1092, is what the plan commission counted. And that was only for 350 homes. There were 900 taken for the West Toledo expressway. So it was virtually all white neighborhood. But now you’ve opened that gateway to the white communities, and for all those other reasons that we have lived with forever and ever and ever, people decided, I don’t want my kids in school next to people of color, I don’t want to live next to people of color. whatever their reasons were, they moved, they had the equity, they had the upward mobility aspect of things that people of color that don’t have. So today’s census data will show you that from I 75 to Douglas Road, there’s three census tracts, and they have flipped. There are now majority people of color. So they don’t have the wherewithal to say, oh, they buy what they can afford, and, you know, that’s the properties that they can afford. So why should they have to deal with further intrusion into their lives when they’re already dealing with probably health concerns, probably struggling economically, probably because that’s the history of this country. It’s not anything that has changed. It’s just that the diversity of the neighborhood has definitely changed. And what you will do is have people that say, I can’t put up with it anymore, and I’m moving if you have the wherewithal. So what we’re going to have is an increase in population of people of color who are forced to live in places that the rest of us would say, no, I’m leaving.

Doug Berger: All right. Peggy, as we wrap up today, if somebody is interested in this topic, even if it’s not your particular topic, but maybe they want to find out more about your group, how do they get a hold of you?

Peggy Daly Masternak: a couple of ways. I’m not the most technically skilled. There is a website. We need it. I’m putting out the word. If somebody wants to maintain our website, we’d love the opportunity. we have a Facebook page that is better maintained. look it up. I’m not a Facebook page.

Doug Berger: Well, I’ll put the links up in the show notes when I publish this.

Peggy Daly Masternak: but a direct email contact would be, And, you know, they’ll get a response. so we try to respond, you know, to anybody who asks to be added to our mailing list or, you know, has an interest in the project and what we know about it, or wants a meeting with their neighborhood group or wherever. And pretty much you ask, and I’ll go wherever to talk about this because it’s that important to me.

Doug Berger: Right. And, right. And I would encourage anybody that lives in the affected area for sure, to get ahold of you, especially if they’re very, very concerned about the issues that you brought up regarding that. And I do appreciate you being with us today.

Peggy Daly Masternak: Thank you, Doug.

Voice Over: Thank you for listening. For more information about the topics in this episode, please visit the episode page at Glass City Humanist is an outreach of the secular humanists of western Lake Erie. SHoWLE can be reached at Glass City humanist is hosted, written and produced by Douglas Berger, and he’s solely responsible for the content. Our theme music is Glass City jam, composed using the ampify studio. See you next time.

Transcript is machine generated, lightly edited, and approximate to what was recorded. If you would like perfect transcripts, please donate to the show.


Written, produced, and edited by Douglas Berger and he is entirely responsible for the content. Incidental voice overs by Shawn Meagley

The GCH theme is “Glass City Jam” composed using Ampify Studio

This episode by Glass City Humanist is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.