LIMA — The Elm Street underpass — a project more than 15 years in the making — will begin official construction this Monday as Sydney-based Eagle Bridge Co. starts building demolition work and closes down Grove Avenue.
The project consisting of extensive reworking of the railroad, the construction of a underpass and the creation of a roundabout at the three-way intersection of Elm Street, Bellefontaine Avenue and Calumet Avenue is slated for completion in November 2019. This year’s building season will see the construction of the underpass and next year’s will focus on the roundabout.
As work progresses, the city will be instituting a number of detours for vehicles traveling in that region. The first will close down Elm Street and will ask motorists to head north via Pine on the west side and Shawnee on the east side to cross the tracks at North Street. Future detours will be announced at www.GOLima.org (which itself may be under construction for the time being).
The underpass should clear up the troubles created by trains stopping on the tracks on Lima’s east side for travellers crossing on Elm Street. Currently, if a train stops at that location, the closest grade separations to cross exist two miles to the south and six miles to the north. The lengthy detours and traffic buildup when such an event occurs have been the primary reason for pursuing the project.
Director of Public Works Howard Elstro said safety officials, first responders, medical professionals and individuals traveling on a business’s time have all made complaints about the hold ups at that crossing.
The roundabout evolved from the need for the underpass. The creation of the roundabout would ease the flow of traffic at the already complicated three-road intersection just west of the proposed underpass and give vehicles a smoother approach when deciding to cross at the grade separation, Elstro said.
Originally estimated to cost $20 million, much of the extensive planning stages resulted from trying to find funding sources for the project. As of today, the majority of the project will be paid for through state grants from the Ohio Department of Transportation. Local public dollars, which function as local matches for the state grants, total $850,000.
Private donations to the project include $50,000 from both Lima Memorial Health Systems and Mercy Health-St Rita’s Medical Center, which helped secure $4 million necessary to start the project.
“Had it not been for the private sector pledge, this project wouldn’t have taken off. So we’re very grateful for them,” Elstro said.
The City of Lima is planning a groundbreaking ceremony for the project scheduled for 10 a.m. May 10 at 1000 E. Elm Street.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.