Ruth Werdebaugh hated the idea of an underpass when it was brought to the table a dozen years ago.
Living just a stone’s throw from the tracks that bisect the village, she was upset at the prospect of a grinding, multi-year construction project.
But Werdebaugh beamed Wednesday as the new crossing opened.
“I didn’t want this but I’m glad it’s done,” she told the Enterprise. “It’s going to be an attraction for the village.”
About a year before work was set to begin, Werdebaugh sold her home on the north side and moved to East Hamilton Street. Her new place is only a little farther from the tracks but a world away from traffic.
With some distance, her perspective on the underpass has changed: “I’m glad it’s here,” Werdebaugh said.
She’s not alone.
Relief seems to be the overriding feeling in Wellington today as the thoroughfare reopens.
“So many of us have waited so many years for this project first of all get started. Now we’re happy to see it reach such beautiful completion,” said Fr. James Reymann of St. Patrick Catholic Church, who offered a prayer during Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “I was down there almost every day checking to make sure they did a good job, and they did a very good job.”
He joked that no longer will parishioners be able to use trains blocking the tracks as an excuse for arriving late at Mass — an excuse that “happens even when people are coming from the far north, and we don’t have any trains up there.”
For local businesses, the underpass opening is welcome.
“I know our business slowed down a lot when (the crossing) closed down, and I’m looking forward to it being open,” said Ashley Lober of the Wellington Party Center.
“I think it’s going to make it a lot more convenient for customers who want to come to town to do business,” said Mike Sunderman of Edward Jones Investments, one of the closest businesses to the underpass.
“There are times people don’t want to come south of the tracks because they don’t want to get hit by long train waits going one way and then coming back across,” he said.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Photos by Jason Hawk | Wellington Enterprise Ruth Werdebaugh said she was opposed to the underpass project when it was proposed, but has had a change of heart.