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Published: Friday, 8/15/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

$23.4M UNDERPASS IN HOLLAND

Residents learn of plans for project on McCord Road

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The underpass project on McCord Road will cost nearly $25 million. The underpass project on McCord Road will cost nearly $25 million.
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From her home on Village Meadows Trail in Holland, Claudia Trombla should have a front-row seat to watch state contractors replace the McCord Road railroad crossing near Springfield High School with an underpass.

Whether she’ll be able to leave the house, she was jokingly unsure.

“I’ll either just stay here for a year, or ...” Ms. Trombla said before explaining that her volunteer work means becoming a shut-in isn’t really an option.

She spoke after a community meeting Thursday at the Strawberry Acres Lodge, where Ohio Department of Transportation officials explained how the $23.4 million underpass project is expected to proceed.

“I can get through that,” she said later, “but so will everyone else. There’s going to be a lot of traffic. It’ll be most interesting.”

There will be a stretch next year, however, when McCord Road will be severed and the more than 17,500 other daily motorists who cross the railroad tracks there will have to go another way.

For about 75 days, ODOT spokesman Theresa Pollick told an audience of about 60, the McCord intersection with North Mall Drive and Hall Street will be closed for roundabout construction. It’s even possible, she warned, that McCord’s closing will at least briefly overlap with a closing nearby on Angola Road, which could otherwise be part of a detour route using Holland-Sylvania Road.

ODOT is rebuilding and widening the I-475/​U.S. 23 bridge over Angola. For two 90-day periods — one this fall, the other next spring — Angola Road will be closed at the freeway for that construction.

The state officials’ goal is for Angola to reopen before McCord closes, “but the way weather is around here, you never know,” Ms. Pollick said.

She noted afterward that the school calendar will dictate when McCord is closed because officials don’t want Springfield’s school buses to have to detour.

Springfield Township Fire Chief Richard Helminski said that with firehouses on both sides of the tracks, he’s not worried about traffic congestion or detours interfering with emergency response.

“We’ve been able to adjust our responses on a number of different situations around here, and we’ll continue to do that,” the fire chief said before noting that a simultaneous closing on Angola is his main concern.

An audience member who declined to identify herself suggested that the nearby Holloway Road crossing be widened first to keep traffic in Holland from getting “crazy,” but Lucas County Engineer Keith Earley said no such widening is planned.

When the roundabout is finished in about a year, construction of the McCord underpass will only just be starting. But by then a temporary, two-lane railroad crossing will open nearby on Holland Park Boulevard, providing a much closer detour route.

A temporary traffic signal will be installed at Holland Park and Angola to manage the detouring traffic, Mr. Earley said.

Springfield Superintendent of Schools Michael O’Shea, meanwhile, said extra crossing guards — a mix of Holland police and school employees — will be stationed near the high school as an extra safety measure during that stage of construction.

The project’s first stage, which is under way, is construction of the bypass for the railroad tracks at the McCord crossing. That work requires nine months because the temporary route’s fill dirt needs to settle before tracks can be laid atop it, Ms. Pollick said. Only after that can the existing tracks be removed and the bridge be built on their alignment, she said.

Canton-based Beaver Excavating, ODOT’s general contractor for the project, has a 2016 deadline to finish construction, but the final stage — removing the Holland Park crossing and remains of the railroad bypass once the underpass opens to both road and rail traffic — will be mostly out of the way, Ms. Pollick said.

The underpass’s opening will mean no more train horns in Holland because the village already established a “quiet zone” at Holloway Road, its only other track crossing.

“That’ll be a pleasure,” Ms. Trombla said.

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



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