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Published: Wednesday, 3/22/2006

McCord project to proceed as underpass

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Although the final plan for an underpass on McCord Road at the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks is not yet decided, officials in Holland and Springfield Township are unanimous about it: The project will be an underpass; an overpass is no longer under consideration.

Holland Mayor Mike Yunker looked over displays of the plans from the Ohio Department of Transportation last week at Springfield High School and said he hasn t yet decided which plan he favors but at least we won t have a big pile of dirt separating our community. He and others have opposed an overpass primarily because of the visual obstruction it would cause.

One of the biggest reasons ODOT has eliminated an overpass from consideration is the construction of a Wal-Mart and other businesses along McCord across from the high school.

The land now under construction for the commercial entities would be needed for an overpass, according to Bernie Leite of Mannik and Smith Group Inc., which is doing engineering work on the project.

Mr. Leite spent three hours at the school and said he hadn t heard anyone voicing a strong opinion about one or the other option to the underpass project. They just want to know when, Mr. Leite said, noting that the project has been under discussion for years.

The growing area now has about 23,000 vehicles crossing the railroad tracks daily, and they are often stopped by what Mr. Leite said are about 100 trains each day.

The expansion in the area generally guarantees an increase in traffic and he added that the Wal-Mart alone will likely cause a big jump in the traffic count once it opens.

One of the two plans under consideration would end with McCord Road in its current alignment and the other would have it slightly to the east over a new underpass.

If McCord retains its same alignment, a temporary road will have to be built to carry the traffic while the underpass is under construction.

Under both plans the railroad line will need a temporary track to the south of its current configuration.

That step in the project will cut across some school property and force the district to store buses elsewhere, but no buildings will have to come down.

The project is expected to cost about $20 million.

Frank Roach, the owner of a small shopping area at 1150 South McCord, said he hasn t yet decided which of the two plans he prefers but said that in the name of progress the project should get under way.

Bob Bethel, chairman of the Springfield Township trustees, said that he is pleased the state has gotten rid of the idea of an overpass.

Both of the current plans will maintain our continuity with businesses, he said.

It s time for us to help move this along, he said.

Cynthia Beekly, superintendent of Springfield Schools, said officials of the system are delighted that there will be no overpass. She said it was difficult to imagine the front of the school being blocked by one end of such a structure.

Of the two plans proposed, the schools prefer the one that moves the roadway somewhat to the east.

Although it won t provide a lot of space, it could result in some amount of additional room for school property, she said.

Mike Ligibel, planning administrator for ODOT s district office in Bowling Green said a decision on which of the two designs will mover forward is likely in the next couple months.



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