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Published: 7/27/2013 - Updated: 8 months ago

Northwood project seeks October finish

Rain creates delay in construction

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A Norfolk Southern train passes under the Wales Road overpass under construction in Northwood. A Norfolk Southern train passes under the Wales Road overpass under construction in Northwood.
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All beams are in place for the second of two Wales Road bridges that soon will let traffic bypass three often-blocked railroad crossings that split Northwood in half, and the first bridge’s concrete deck was poured last week too.

But like other projects in the area, rainy weather in late June and early July has taken its toll on the construction schedule for the $11.23 million Wales Road grade-separation project.

The key date for most motorists, the day those new bridges open, has been pushed from mid-September to sometime in October.

Another delay is actually good news for nearby residents and businesses: The planned closing of Drouillard Road north of Wales, to tie it into the rerouted roadway, has been pushed from next month all the way to November.

That means Drouillard will remain open until after Wales reopens. Under the old schedule, the only way in to the Wales-Drouillard area for a month or more would have been from the south, through Walbridge.

“We lost all the weather delays, now we have a Columbia Gas delay,” Mark Mondora, the Ohio Department of Transportation’s area engineer overseeing the project, said Friday, referring to a gas-pipe issue that arose this week.

A key factor now, he explained, is a large drainage structure on the west side of Drouillard just north of the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks, into which runoff from the new Wales roadway will flow.

“If it’s wet, you can’t put in the drainage, and if you can’t put in the drainage, you can’t build the road,” Mr. Mondora said, gesturing to the unpaved easterly approach to the new Wales bridge over CSX Transportation’s busy line through the area.

The CSX tracks cross a comparably busy Norfolk Southern main line a short distance northwest of the existing Wales-Drouillard intersection.

Well more than 100 trains per day pass through that junction on a normal day, causing untold delays to motorists — especially when trains stop and block a road, as is particularly common on the CSX side.

“They certainly need these bridges,” Mr. Mondora said.

Crossing gates “go down for one train, then here comes another one. I don’t think I’ve ever done one of these grade separations where there are so many trains.”

The Drouillard tie-in will connect the north part of Drouillard to new Wales east of the two bridges — using part of existing Wales to get there — while existing Drouillard intersects Wales between them. Through traffic on Drouillard will have a longer way to get around, but that circuit is how two bridges eliminate three railroad crossings.

The Drouillard connection could be pushed off until spring, Mr. Mondora said, but that creates a risk that a wet spring would stretch the overall project past its May completion date.

Starting the Drouillard tie-in in November, however, means the connection wouldn’t reopen until spring, because by the time it would be ready for paving, the area’s asphalt-mix plants will be closed for the winter.

The project’s second bridge-deck pour is planned for early September.7ea745e6-774c-4392-b41f-69f495d2469b

Besides finishing the bridges and working on drainage, project contractor E.S. Wagner of Oregon is connecting existing Wales to new Wales at either end of the new route. That is the key reason Wales closed last month.

Ed Weiland, who lives in Curtice but grows vegetables on land next to his brother’s house on existing Wales just east of the tracks, said the construction isn’t a big hassle. “I just go that way, go around,” he said, pointing west.

Removing the Wales crossing at the Norfolk Southern tracks finally satisfies a desire Mr. Weiland said his father harbored for many years to get a bridge built there.

During World War II, Mr. Weiland said, three of his sisters were headed west to work at the Rossford Ordinance plant when their car collided with a train there, killing all three.

“Dad was going to give them the right of way” if it would get a bridge built, he said.

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



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