City to Build Railroad Overpass on Country Club Drive
The train crossing at Country Club Drive. (City-Times photo)
By Brandi Makuski
Mayor Andrew Halverson says money earmarked for the Bus. 51 remodel should be rerouted to fund a new overpass project on Country Club Drive/Hoover Road.
Halverson made the remarks while city leaders were watching an AECOM presentation on options for re-grading the road. City leaders say the re-grade is necessary because traffic is often backed up for extended periods of time by the Canadian National Railroad and often forces emergency vehicles to use alternate routes.
Officials from AECOM- the same firm hired to oversee the Bus. 51 project- gave the city options for building a bridge over the train tracks or building an underpass. The street is one of two busy routes to the Industrial Park and acts as an arterial road connecting two parts of the city.
An overpass/underpass project had been considered for many years at the train crossing, but Halverson said it had always been discounted because of the high cost. Project alternative costs from AECOM range from $20.7 million for a walled underpass to a $12.3 million for a sloped overpass. The lowest cost option, Halverson said, was not only doable- it should be a priority.
The price tag of $12.3 million is too good to pass up, Halverson said, because that number already includes contingencies, property acquisition, right-of-way and design costs. The added safety and traffic flow improvements, he said, make this project a priority over Bus. 51, which wasn’t received well by city residents and area business owners.
“We can fill potholes and cracks for a long time on Business 51. What we can’t do is move those trains,” Halverson said. “We feel for $12.3 million we have a very viable project that should be celebrated as early as possible. So much so, we’ll also be proposing shifting any available dollars we have for Business 51 to this project as well as authorization to transfer urban grants we received to this project.”
He added if all the factors line up construction could start as soon as spring of 2016. The project will come before the Finance Committee and Board of Public Works in May.