Rail work likely to wear through fair

Photo by Kelsey Leyva | Wellington Enterprise CSX employees work on installing the new train tracks for the railroad underpass project Thursday, July 9.

How fair traffic will be impacted by Wellington’s railroad underpass project remains uncertain.

A 3o-day closure to tie Rt. 58 into the new roadway is supposed to start at the beginning of August, according to Ohio Department of Transportation spokeswoman Christine Meyers.

If true, that would mean the more than 100,000 people driving to the Lorain County Fair would have to find an alternate route.

But ODOT project engineer Brian Rawlings doesn’t think the extended closure, which he says will be 35 days, will happen until after the fair.

“Currently CSX is on the project working on installing their new track across the bridge and they’re supposed to have everything cut over to the new bridge by the end of the month,” he said.

Workers can’t begin construction on the north side of the tracks until trains are redirected to the new tracks July 27.

After that, workers can begin building a retaining wall, setting up storm drainage, and paving the roadway beneath the underpass.

“It’s going to essentially mirror what you’re seeing on the south side,” Rawlings said.

All of that is expected to be complete before the extended closure, which is why Rawlings doubts it will happen before the fair.

He thinks the 35-day closure will happen at the end of August around Labor Day.

“We have a progress meeting at the end of this month and we’ll get an updated schedule and have a better actual date of when we’re going to close 58,” Rawlings said.

But there is a back-up plan if the workers get the construction on the north side of the tracks done ahead of schedule and around fair time.

“What we would probably do, and we’ve talked with the village a little bit about this, is close 58 in town and leave the intersection of 58 and Kelly Street open,” Rawlings said.

Meyers said the estimated completion date is now Oct. 21, but Rawlings thinks that will be pushed back too.

“This past month was pretty rainy so that date will be extended based on weather for the rest of the summer and depending on that I would say a realistic completion date would be around Halloween,” he said. “I think that’s probably what we’re going to shoot for but a lot can happen between now and then.”

The original completion date for the project was August 2014, which means it could be a year-and-a-half overdue by the time it is finished.

Kelsey Leyva can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @TWE_KelseyLeyva on Twitter.