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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 1/31/2013

Springfield parking lot will be affected by board OK of McCord Road Underpass construction

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The underpass project, now expected to cost $17.5 million and to be paid for with a mix of federal, state, and county funds, is intended to eliminate a busy railroad crossing. The underpass project, now expected to cost $17.5 million and to be paid for with a mix of federal, state, and county funds, is intended to eliminate a busy railroad crossing.
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Springfield Local Schools will get two rows of student parking at Lucas County’s expense to replace spaces lost because of the upcoming McCord Road Underpass construction.

The district board of education approved the deal Wednesday evening.

The school board voted to accept $773,820 from the county engineer’s office that will pay the district for both a permanent land take to build a traffic roundabout at McCord and Hall Street and a temporary easement needed for a railroad shoofly during the underpass construction.

Construction of the shoofly, a temporary route for the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks to bypass the underpass site, is expected to start early next year. It is to occupy the northerly 70 feet of school district property abutting the railroad line until after the underpass opens, scheduled for 2016 or 2017.

The affected property now is part of the district’s bus lot and part of the student parking lot at Springfield High School. School board chairman Kenneth Musch explained that the lost bus-lot space will be taken from the existing student lot, while one new row will be added to that lot’s east end and a new lot, with several dozen parking spaces, will be built just west of the high schools’ football stadium.

“It will be a little farther for some of them [students] to walk, but it will be there for them,” Mr. Musch said.

Two inches of reinforcing pavement and engine-block heaters will be added to the area for buses.

“It’s not going to cost the taxpayers of Springfield Local Schools any money for that,” Mr. Musch said, noting that the school district’s work has to start this year for the land to be ready for the railroad construction.

“The railroad wants at least 9 to 10 months of settlement” of the roadbed before the temporary tracks can be built, he said — and until the temporary tracks are operational, underpass construction can’t start.

The roundabout will take a small bite from a corner of school property at McCord and Hall, but won’t affect the tennis courts there, the board chairman said. Once the project is finished, he said, the county money also will pay to restore the shoofly site to its previous condition.

The school district does not intend, however, to remove the new parking spaces.

“We’re not going to spend money to tear that out,” Mr. Musch said.

The underpass project, now expected to cost $17.5 million and to be paid for with a mix of federal, state, and county funds, is intended to eliminate a busy railroad crossing. It became a local safety priority in late 2009 after a Springfield High student was killed and a second lost a leg when they tried to run across the tracks in front of an Amtrak passenger train.

Paul Quinto, a Springfield parent who attended the meeting, called the upcoming underpass “important for everybody’s safety.” His daughter is a classmate at Bowling Green State University with Brianna Mullinger, who was injured on the tracks.

Mr. Musch said he is concerned about Lucas County’s plans for a roundabout at McCord and Hall because of the design’s novelty locally, but county officials have said roundabouts are safer than intersections with traffic lights.

Lucas County’s first roundabout was built in Springfield Township, at King Road and Nebraska Avenue in 2009.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.



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