NORTHWOOD, OH (Toledo News Now) - Drivers in Northwood will soon spend less time stopped at railroad crossings, which is the goal of the city's latest project. Two overpasses are going up by the intersection of Wales and Drouillard Roads.
This project is about more than traffic inconveniences. The mayor said once the overpasses are completed, people in the area should see an improvement in public safety because the rail tracks and frequent trains will no longer divide the city and delay emergency responders.
"My mother-in-law lives in Walbridge and she had a heart attack scare and the train, it stopped me," said Tim Steele, who lives near a railroad crossing.
Northwood firefighters and police officers said it is difficult to respond quickly to emergencies when the city is divided by rail tracks.
"When they're sitting on the other side of the track and there's a train there, I mean, I've seen trains stop for over 10 minutes at times. So they have to go all around the city to get around that train," explained Steele.
The city is hoping that will change by April 2014 when the two new overpasses are expected to be ready to go, allowing traffic to avoid some major rail crossings.
Northwood's mayor said city officials started pushing for this project 20 years ago.
"And I thought, 'Well this is great! We're going to be number one on the list.' It looks like we're the last one on the list, but we're going to get it, and that's the important part of it," said Mark Stoner.
Stoner said it has taken this long to get proper funding for the $11 million project. Now that the money is all here, he is expecting an improvement in public safety, traffic flow, and economic development.
"This is probably the biggest thing that's ever happened to Northwood. The significance of these two overpasses, it'll be huge," said Stoner.
Residents said they are hoping the overpass project will change a popular saying about their community.
"There's no way around it. There's no way out. There's no good way in either because of the trains," said Steele.
People like Steele said they are looking forward to being more connected with surrounding areas.
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