By Linda Dillman
The railroad crossing on Canal Winchester’s North High Street – located near the Queen of the Line Depot in the local historical society complex – could be getting a facelift if the city works out an agreement with the railroad, similar to one upgrading the Gender Road crossing.
“We have been in regular contact with the various rail companies that have owned the tracks over the years,” said Contract Services Administrator Bill Sims. “During the 2017 planning efforts with Indiana & Ohio Railroad about upgrading the Gender Road crossing, we discussed the other crossings in town as well.”
While not at a final “go-ahead,” the two entities have agreed to work together toward making mutually beneficial improvements at the crossing.
“Once the design work is done and detailed estimates are prepared, if everything is agreeable with both parties, we will enter into a detailed formal agreement to move forward with construction,” said Sims.
The primary reason for the city to pursue the improvements is safety for vehicular and pedestrian traffic. There are two issues with the crossing. First, the vehicle crossing is rough and narrow. Second, there is no dedicated pedestrian crossing of the rails.
Sims said both issues will be addressed.
“I do not know when the crossing was last improved,” said Sims. “The number of trains using the track changes depending on their customer’s needs. Lately there has been an uptick in the train traffic. I’d estimate two trains a day.”
Details of the improvement will be determined during the design phase. Sims said the basic plan is to build a wider crossing providing more room for vehicles and construct a pedestrian crossing on the west side of North High Street.
The construction cost will be shared equally, with the city using available funds for their share of the project.
“We successfully followed a similar partnering process for the improvement of the Gender Road rail crossing constructed last year,” said Sims. “The collaboration went very smoothly.”
According to Sims, the design phase will occur this spring. Construction could be as early as this fall or possibly spring 2020. The extent of impact on traffic has not been determined, but any necessary road closure will be kept to a minimum duration.