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Benedict Avenue railroad tracks improvement is '30- to 50-year fix'

Cary Ashby • Aug 19, 2019 at 7:00 PM

While Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway and Norwalk city workers are improving the Benedict Avenue railroad tracks, Columbia Gas of Ohio is doing work nearby.

The railroad track work started Monday. Interim Norwalk Public Works Director Wally Ritchie said Wheeling & Lake Erie is paying to improve the tracks and ties while the city is pouring the concrete and doing “a little bit of paving.” The project will cost Norwalk about $10,000.

“It’s a 30- to 50-year fix,” said Ritchie, who estimated the work should take about a week.

It’s similar to the work previously done by Wheeling & Lake Erie on Woodlawn Avenue between Bank and Madison streets.

“That turned out great,” Ritchie said.

Mayor Rob Duncan has told council members that other cities are looking at Norwalk for the “superior work” done to improve railroad track crossings.

Nearby on Seminary Street, Columbia Gas workers are replacing high-pressure gas mains. Noting the company is working in conjunction with the city, Ritchie said it’s good timing.

“They can do their work and get out of there,” he added.

All the construction in the area of Benedict Avenue has meant that road is closed near the tracks as well as Seminary Street near the Benedict intersection. It has resulted in heavy traffic on Linwood Avenue. 

Trucks are being detoured onto the U.S. 20 bypass to Ohio 601 to Ohio 113 and back onto U.S. 250.

“That’s an ODOT-approved detour,” Ritchie said.

While the city has received “a few local traffic complaints,” Ritchie said the end result will make all the short-term hassle worth it.

“They’re going to love it once it’s done,” he said.

Blocking off the Benedict Avenue railroad tracks hasn’t caused a problem for the Norwalk Fire Department.

“We haven’t gone south yet. … We (will) just take the Linwood Avenue bridge,” said Capt. Aaron Lynch, who noted the increased traffic won’t be an issue either. “We’ve done that before.”

The third phase of the Old State Road widening and improvement project is nearing completion. Ritchie said city workers put on a top coat Friday and all that is left are seeding and posting signs.

The $500,000 project is happening between Akron and Cleveland roads. As of mid-July, the storm sewer work was complete and crews were digging the curbs on the west side of Old State Road. Curbing began about two weeks later.

“It will be open by school,” Ritchie said.

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