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Published: Wednesday, 12/15/2010

Move on McCord project

After more than a decade of discussion about a rail line underpass on McCord Road in Holland, the project has inched a little closer to becoming a reality. After the project finally gets the go-ahead, as it should, another seven years could pass before it's finished. It will be worth the wait.

The state's Transportation Review Advisory Council was right to target the railroad crossing next to Springfield High School and near Spring Meadows shopping center as a major transportation project. Daily, as many as 80 trains use the tracks, and some 24,000 vehicles - including school buses - cross there. Springfield students are among the pedestrians who cross the tracks on foot.

The $13.3 million for the rail underpass is included in TRAC's five-year plan for $167.7 million earmarked for major projects throughout Ohio. Lucas County officials are wise not to count on those funds until plans are formally adopted in March.

Gov.-elect John Kasich will be in office then. But it would be a mistake for his administration to scratch the McCord Road project. To do that would risk public safety, which should significantly improve with a rail underpass.

The McCord Road crossing of the Norfolk Southern railroad has been the site of fatalities. The most recent one was a year ago when two Springfield High students made a futile attempt to outrun an Amtrak passenger train. One of the teenagers was killed; the other was badly injured.

It is not yet clear whether the underpass will include sidewalks. However, because the crossing is so close to schools, including sidewalks in the underpass is sensible and practical.

Springfield school officials are not happy about a proposed roundabout on McCord by school property. However, a roundabout would reduce costs as well as lower the chance for right-angle collisions that often occur when motorists run red lights.

Even after funds are approved, the finished project will be a good ways off. Digging wouldn't begin until after engineering is detailed and land is acquired. Construction alone will take from 24 to 30 months.

Meanwhile, nothing must be allowed to get in the way of this project. In fact, if it can be moved up, all the better. The safety of motorists and students who cross those tracks, is at stake.

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