HUDSON: Construction wouldn’t begin for at least five years, but the city is asking residents to weigh in now on a proposal to build a bridge over the Norfolk Southern Railroad Crossing at Hines Hill Road.
Engineers hosted an open house Thursday at the Barlow Community Center to explain the options and collect feedback, as required of any Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) project.
The project — something the city has been trying to get funded for more than a decade — received a $273,000 federal grant, and the city chipped in $67,000, to do preliminary alternative designs, which residents could view on easels and wall maps.
There is currently no money set aside for the project, but the forum is hopefully a step toward getting on ODOT’s list, officials said.
The options have been narrowed down to either an arched, earthen bridge, or a steel beam bridge, project manager Chris Papp said.
Also, the bridge could be built along a 3,400-foot portion of Hines Hill near the recently-demolished Youth Development Center, or a new road and bridge could be built just south and parallel to Hines Hill.
By shifting the project to the south, the current road could remain open during most of the project, closing only when the new route needs to be connected.
Engineer Thom Sheridan said up to 60 north- and south-traveling trains cross the east-west artery every day, and that’s been a longtime concern for emergency crews.
Hudson fire, police and paramedics responding to calls on the west side of the tracks are often stopped by trains.
In serious emergencies, they’ve even had to call neighboring Macedonia for help when they’ve been caught waiting for a slow or stalled train, Sheridan said.
Sheridan said the safety issues involving Hines Hill make it the most significant road issue in the city.
Less important but also of note, the tracks are near the Youth Development Center, which the city bought several years ago.
The north side of Hines Hill has been made into a conservation area, but there is potential for economic development south of the road.
Unobstructed traffic would be a boon to marketing the area, Sheridan said.
Florence Gier said she didn’t need convinced of the need.
She moved into her Hines Hill home in 1947, when the city had about 3,300 residents. Now, with a population of more than 23,000 and a busy state Route 8 down the road, she has witnessed the way traffic backs up when a train crosses the road.
“I can see the cars and I wonder how they have the patience to go through that every day,” Gier said.
Papp estimated that more than 4,500 cars use the road daily, but projects it will become even busier in the future. A traffic study is underway.
Residents who want to offer feedback on the project or proposed designs may write Papp at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is March 28.
Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/paulaschleis.