MARIETTA - City council received good news about railroad crossings from Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, Thursday night.
"There's been a longtime dispute about the condition of railroad crossings in the Harmar district that has probably been going on for at least 30 years now," Thompson told the council members.
He said a meeting to discuss the issue, facilitated by the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC), was held last summer with representatives from CSX Railroad and the Ohio Department of Transportation as well as city officials, including then-Mayor Michael Mullen.
"We decided to take a more facilitative approach toward the problem, and now CSX has announced it will close the Lord Street crossing and use the savings to do an upgrade on the Fort Harmar Drive crossing (near the Washington Street Bridge)," Thompson said.
He said work on the crossing upgrade would commence in late June or early July, and would require the closing of one lane of Fort Harmar Drive during construction.
"The project is expected to take 10 days to two weeks," Thompson said.
An alternate plan to reconfigure the Pike, Greene and Seventh Street intersection, presented during a public meeting on the project last year, was rejected by a majority of council members.
The cost estimate for that project was $3.8 million.
Funding for the upgrade will come from ORDC with some matching funds from the city. The total cost of the project has not been determined.
In other business Thursday, council approved the hiring of 11 workers through the Washington County Job and Family Services Summer Youth Employment Program. The summer jobs, paying $7.70 per hour, will include four positions with the streets department, six positions in the public facilities department, and one position in the water department.
Council approved the expenditure of not more than $5,489 to pay for a traffic modeling study by W.E. Stilson, the city's traffic engineering consultant.
The study will determine if a recently proposed change to the Pike, Greene, and Seventh streets intersection would provide necessary traffic and pedestrian safety improvements in that area.
With monies already set aside earlier for design engineering on the intersection project, council would only have to appropriate an additional $1,097 to pay for the modeling study.
Councilman Roger Kalter, D-1st Ward, said he had received phone calls from constituents concerned about the plan that would basically move the entire intersection about a block east of its existing location as well as change the current traffic pattern.
"This is a convoluted plan, but I guess we're going to do the study anyway," he said.
Streets committee chairman Denver Abicht, D-at large, noted the funding approved was for the study only.
The measure passed on a 5-1 vote (Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, could not attend Thursday's meeting). The lone dissenting vote came from Councilman Harley Noland, D-at large, who told the streets committee members last week that he believed relocating the intersection would not alleviate the existing traffic and pedestrian safety issues.