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McCord underpass project in limbo

Costs found to be higher than expected

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About 84 trains a day pass through the McCord Road crossing in Holland.

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Construction of the long-awaited McCord Road underpass in Holland could be in jeopardy after Lucas County Commissioners questioned county officials about the higher-than-expected costs for the project.

The commissioners were asked Tuesday by county engineer Keith Earley to approve about $3 million as the county’s share of the $23.4 million approved bid from a Canton contractor.

Mr. Earley said Beaver Excavating Co.’s accepted proposal was 21 percent higher than the Ohio Department of Transportation’s estimate of $19.3 million, and bumped up the county’s share, which originally was thought to be about $500,000.

Among the reasons for the increased costs is the sewer-main repair work that must be done as part of the underpass project. The cost for that work was estimated by the state to be about $1 million, but instead is expected to be about $3.1 million, Mr. Earley said.

After hearing from the county engineer and sanitary engineer Jim Shaw about funding options and cost issues, the commissioners agreed to schedule a meeting on Thursday with the hope that ODOT officials would be available to discuss the project.

Further complicating the project, Mr. Earley said, was the contractor could change the design from an underpass to an overpass over the railroad tracks if the contractor determines it will cost less money.

County Commissioner Peter Gerken said the cost has grown from $12 million to $13 million since the project was first proposed and the funding formula has changed many times over the last 10 years, and now, learning the county’s share is now $3 million, “puts a knot in my stomach.”

“I want to know what my options are,” he said.

Other highway and road improvements, including projects that use county money to resurface streets in Toledo, he said, could be postponed or taken away because the county has to make a decision on spending $3 million for the underpass.

“There are winners and losers in this project. There are other projects that will not get done if we have to donate money to this,” he said.

Mr. Earley said ODOT wants the money for the county’s share by July 14.

“This is a gun-to-our-head decision if we vote yes today to do it. If we have more time we can have more exploration and we all feel better about it,” Mr. Gerken said.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.

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