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The proposed McCord Road railroad underpass in Holland where two high school students were hit by a train in 2009 is now fully funded, with construction expected to begin in three years.
As part of a $70 million statewide funding approval, the Ohio Department of Transportation's Transportation Review Advisory Council has allocated $13.3 million to the project, thus plugging a gaping hole in its $37.5 million budget.
"Great. That's good news. We should be good to go," Lucas County Engineer Keith Earley said Tuesday after being told of the approval.
The underpass will replace a railroad crossing that is heavily used by motor vehicles and trains.
About 80 trains, including four Amtrak passenger trains, cross McCord each day.
The 24,000 vehicles that use McCord Road include school buses from nearby Springfield High School. Many students cross the tracks at McCord.
On Dec. 16, 2009, Cody Brown, 15, a freshman, was killed, while his friend, Brianna Mullinger, a 16-year-old sophomore, lost a leg and suffered other injuries when they were struck by an Amtrak train as they attempted to run across the tracks at the crossing.
The underpass money had been in a program draft announced in December, and Mr. Earley said he was confident the council would approve the funds.
But the county engineer did not expected an announcement until Wednesday, when ODOT director Jerry Wray is scheduled to visit Toledo to meet with area transportation officials.
"Today concluded an open and fair selection process which delivered a final project list that will increase economic development and safety for Ohioans," Mr. Wray, who also leads the advisory council, said in a statement. "We had to make some difficult decisions to keep the list within fiscal balance while still keeping pace with our state's growing transportation needs."
In addition to the newly approved funds, the underpass budget includes $11.3 million from an Ohio Department of Transportation program dedicated to building bridges at railroad crossings and $12.9 million from local sources, which would include county funding; $287,000 provided by the village of Holland; a 5 percent contribution from Norfolk Southern, and federal grants.
The McCord project has been in development for more than 10 years, after then-Gov. Bob Taft announced a $200 million campaign to build bridges at crossings where train congestion caused safety problems.
Many of those bridges have been in northwest Ohio, including the Seaman Road bridge in Oregon and the Oregon Road bridge in Perrysburg Township.
Mr. Earley said his office continued working on plans for the McCord underpass while awaiting TRAC's green light.
Engineering should be completed by year's end.
After that, land acquisition is expected to take two years and construction could begin in early 2014.
Construction is expected to take 24 to 30 months to complete, the county engineer said.
Along with the underpass itself, the project will include building a roundabout at McCord's intersection with Hall Street, thereby replacing an intersection with traffic signals.
Mr. Earley said the roundabout will eliminate the need for left turn lanes on southbound McCord that would have required the underpass to be wider and added $1 million more to the project.
Contact David Patch at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6094.