About a decade ago, as Northwood officials debated how to fund a replacement of Fire Station No. 1 on Andrus Road, Mayor Mark Stoner said the city could probably get by without it if only two busy railroad crossings on Wales Road had bridges instead.
About 8½ years after Station No. 1’s $1.13 million replacement opened, the Wales bridges are officially complete.
“This is a huge deal for the city,” Mayor Stoner said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday in front of Northwood’s administration building. “I believe this is the biggest thing ever to happen in Northwood.”
Besides more reliable crosstown access for police, firefighters, and school-bus drivers, the project “opens up the central part of the city for economic development” because potential businesses no longer will fear train-related delays for their shipments or workers.
The Wales bridges spanning Norfolk Southern’s Cleveland-Toledo main line and CSX Transportation’s Toledo Terminal route — both used by scores of trains each day — have actually been open since mid-November.
But Wednesday was the formal celebration of the work’s completion, and Theresa Pollick, an Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman, said it coincided with contractor E.S. Wagner wrapping up the last “punch list” touch-up of its $11.32 million state contract to build the bridges and realign part of Drouillard Road to eliminate a third railroad crossing in the area.
Two other railroad crossings remain on Wales between Fire Station No. 2, next door to the administration building, and on Tracy Road, but those are rarely used by trains.
“For public safety, this is outstanding,” police Chief Thomas Cairl said. “It’s nice to go through our own community to serve our community. This is a day everyone’s long been waiting for.”
The railroads still move freight, which is crucial, Chief Cairl said, “but now we can get over them.”
Mayor Stoner said the city will keep two firehouses.
“Technically, we probably would not need both, but we’re not going to shut one down, especially because the one on that side’s the newest,” he said, pointing beyond the railroad tracks, “while most of the population and development is over here.”
Contact David Patch at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6094.