MARIETTA - Several months ago, someone posted a handwritten sign by the railroad track that crosses Fort Harmar Drive in Marietta, just beyond the Washington Street Bridge, that read: "CSX please fix railroad crossing."
Starting Monday, the writer will get his or her wish.
CSX, which owns the local railroad tracks, announced Wednesday it will upgrade the crossing, which jolts motorists passing over it unless they slow down - a move some fear could lead to accidents.
Work is slated to start early Monday morning, and if everything goes according to plan, it will be finished by Thursday, according to an email from Carla Groleau, CSX communications director.
"The company understands this work can affect the communities in which we operate, and we will make every effort to move through the region as safely and swiftly as possible," she said.
The portion of Fort Harmar Drive, which is part of Ohio 7, around the crossing will be closed Monday through Wednesday, said David Rose, communications manager for the Ohio Department of Transportation District 10.
* Local traffic - Washington Street Bridge to Gilman Avenue to Putnam Avenue to Franklin Street to Virginia Street to Ohio 7.
* All other traffic - Interstate 77 to U.S. 50 to Ohio 7.
Northbound traffic would reverse these directions.
Source: City of Marietta, ODOT.
Marietta officials have been working with CSX to coordinate a detour for local traffic only. Northbound traffic will go from Ohio 7 to Virginia Street, then take Franklin Street to Putnam Avenue and Putnam to Gilman Avenue to the Washington Street Bridge, city Engineer Joe Tucker said. Southbound traffic will reverse those directions, exiting the bridge onto Gilman and taking Putnam, Franklin and Virginia back to Ohio 7/Fort Harmar Drive.
"For someone that's traveling from north of Marietta to State Route 7 south beyond Belpre, we would expect them to take the formal detour that ODOT will have signs and message boards up" to promote, Tucker said.
ODOT's detour sends southbound travelers to Interstate 77 and U.S. 50 before getting back onto Ohio 7 at Belpre, Rose said. Northbound traffic would move from Ohio 7 to U.S. 50 around Belpre, then head north on I-77, where they could rejoin Ohio 7 from the Marietta exit.
The existing railroad crossing on Fort Harmar Drive will be replaced with a concrete one, thanks to the City of Marietta kicking in approximately $23,000 for the additional cost over one consisting of wooden planks leading to and from the crossing. The concrete crossing provides a smoother transition.
Marietta City Councilman Harley Noland, D-at large, said he's glad to see action finally being taken on the crossing.
"It's been a traffic hazard because locals who know it's a bad bump almost come to a stop" before crossing it, he said.
Motorists unfamiliar with the area might not realize the driver in front of them is reducing their speed in time to avoid a collision, Noland said.