Monday, August 24, 2009

CSXT prepares major bridge, track projects in Ohio

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CSX Transportation Inc. will raise and remove bridges and lower railroad tracks throughout Northeast Ohio starting next year as part of its $840 million National Gateway plan, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. The local work includes removing the Park Street bridge in Akron, replacing the Knapp Road bridge in Ravenna and raising the Portage County Hike & Bike Trail in Kent.

The overall project is designed to improve container shipping between mid-Atlantic ports and the Midwest. The work in Northeast Ohio will provide more bridge clearance so the railroad can carry double-stack trains - a move that will help take trucks off the highways, saving fuel and shipping costs, CSX said.

''We think it's an exciting project and one that will provide many benefits for Ohio and indeed the American economy,'' CSXT spokesman Bob Sullivan said.

He estimated that the railroad company, and the state and federal governments, are spending $235 million in Ohio.

As part of the project, CSXT started construction earlier this year on the Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal, a $175-million rail facility in Wood County south of Bowling Green.

CSXT and the Ohio Department of Transportation District 4 hosted an open house in Rootstown Township to update the public about the local projects. Officials said they don't expect any major impact on local residents.

The local projects are:

Akron: Lower the tracks at Thornton Street and the University of Akron overhead walkway and remove the bridge at Park Street.

''We're supportive of the work,'' Akron Service Director Richard Merolla said. ''The Park Street bridge needed to come down anyway. I don't think anybody will miss it.''

Harrisville Township: The tentative plan is to remove the Pawnee Road bridge and replace the Rivers Corners Road bridge.

Kent: Lower the tracks at the Wheeling & Lake Erie railroad bridge and Main Street bridge and raise the Portage County Hike & Bike Trail and ABC railroad bridge.

Ravenna: Lower the tracks at Norfolk Southern railroad bridge; replace the Knapp Road bridge.

Westfield Township: Replace the Mud Lake Road bridge.

The work will begin next year and continue for three years, officials said. Specific construction dates have not been set, they said.

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