By Linda Dillman
Changes are coming to a section of North High Street in Canal Winchester where trains cross daily, along with cars and pedestrians.
Reconstruction of the North High Street railroad crossing is scheduled to start Dec. 13 and be finished by Dec. 20, weather permitting. According to Bill Sims, the city’s contract services administrator, the old timber crossing will be completely removed and a new timber panel crossing installed.
“The width of the crossing will be increased to accommodate a pedestrian crossing as well,” said Sims. “The primary reason for the city to pursue the improvements is safety for vehicular traffic and pedestrian traffic. There are two issues with the crossing that will be addressed. First, the vehicle crossing is very rough and very narrow. Secondly, there is no dedicated pedestrian crossing of the rails forcing pedestrians to walk in the roadway. Both of these issues will be corrected.”
Canal Winchester and the railroad are sharing the cost of the $66,329 project, with each party contributing half.
“We successfully followed a similar partnering process for the improvement of the Gender Road rail crossing constructed last year,” said Sims. “The collaboration with the Indiana & Ohio Railway Company has gone very smoothly.”
North High Street will close to vehicular traffic at the tracks starting Dec. 13 and is expected to re-open by the morning of Dec. 18. A detour route will be posted using Pfeiffer Drive and West Waterloo Street.
As far as maintaining the crossing, Sims said the crossing panels are the responsibility of the railroad and the city is responsible for the roadway on either side of the tracks.
According to the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society, the first train came through the town on Jan. 13, 1869 on the Columbus, Hocking Valley and Toledo Railroad line. The present Queen of the Line Depot opened on Dec. 3, 1894 after the first depot was destroyed by fire when a spark from a locomotive landed on the roof on Oct. 11, 1894.