A $14 million project to build two railroad overpasses on Wales Road moved closer is moving forward after years in limbo.
The project, which calls for two railroad overpasses that would effectively eliminate three at-grade crossings on Drouillard and Wales roads, was originally part of a $200 million, 10-year program former governor Bob Taft started in 2000 to fund railroad overpasses.
Survey, road profile, drainage and environmental studies had been completed.
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has been purchasing rights-of-way along Wales and Drouillard roads, according to Northwood Administrator Pat Bacon.
“ODOT has purchased property from the city and properties down Wales and Drouillard roads,” said Bacon.
ODOT has settled with all the property owners except for three, she said. Two are requesting more money and the matter has been turned over to the courts to begin the process of eminent domain.
The other property is in foreclosure. The company’s attorney is requesting more information prior to signing off on the purchase of the property, she said.
Trees have been removed along Wales Road, per the requirements of ODOT. And Toledo Edison is in the process of relocating poles along Wales Road, she said.
Plans to build the overpasses in Northwood have actually been in the works for 16 years. In 1993, the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments conducted a railroad crossing study and ranked Vickers Crossing at the top of the list of area crossings needing an overpass.
The study had found that approximately 130 trains cross four sets of Norfolk Southern and CSX at-grade tracks daily at Vickers Crossing, where tracks intersect, tying up traffic. The crossing also creates delays for the port because rail shipments must wait for the crossing to clear.
Plans initially called for the construction of a rail-to-rail crossing to elevate CSX tracks over Norfolk Southern tracks at Vickers crossing as a regional solution to the train traffic in Northwood and surrounding communities. But the city dropped those plans due to high costs. The city instead chose a cheaper and more limited option of building the two railroad overpasses that will swing south of Wales Road, west of the municipal building.
The city was caught off guard upon learning in 2006 that Congress had transferred $4 million in funds earmarked for the project to two other communities in Ohio. The funds had been transferred because they were originally set aside for the construction of the rail-to-rail crossing.
Northwood breathed a sigh of relief soon afterwards when the Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) announced it would fill the shortfall caused by the transferred funds.
The city over the years has earmarked its local share of $700,000 for the project.