Groundbreaking planned for South Hamilton Crossing project

Artist’s illustration of the $32 million South Hamilton Crossing overpass project. After talking about the need for an overpass at the dangerous rail crossing, ground will be broken today to finally build it. The Hamilton project is expected to be completed in 2018. CONTRIBUTED

Ground will be officially broken this morning on the long-awaited, $32 million South Hamilton Crossing overpass project, something that the city has been talking about doing for more than a century to improve public safety, traffic flow and create more jobs.

The ceremony which will include officials representing Hamilton, Butler County and the Butler County Transportation Improvement District is set for 10:30 a.m. today at the corner of University Boulevard and Marshall Avenue adjacent to the Lane Library.

While today is the groundbreaking ceremony, construction preparation and relocating utilities have been under way for the past few months.

The planned project includes improvements on Grand Boulevard starting just west of Twelfth Street. The project includes street and intersection improvements, an overpass over the CSX railroad tracks, a relocated intersection of Grand Boulevard and Pleasant Avenue/U.S. 127, and continuing with the extension of Grand Boulevard with other future intersection improvements before connecting with University Boulevard.

Once completed in 2018, the new road extension and overpass will create a new direct east/west route from Ohio 4 to University Boulevard for residents and businesses. In addition, it will provide a direct route to Miami University Hamilton and the Vora Technology Park, where 1,500 new jobs at the new BarclayCard processing facility will be located, and also open up between 50 to 60 acres of greenfield at the city-owned University Commerce Park for future development.

The new overpass will eliminate several safety issues that has concerned city officials since 1910 that include numerous car/train accidents where two lanes of Central Avenue cross four rail tracks owned by CSX and Norfolk Southern, as well as delaying first responders in emergencies due to train traffic, according to Jim Blount, Butler County Transportation Improvement District chairman and local historian.

City officials have said when the rail crossing is blocked by passing trains, it could mean a detour of about three miles and close to 10 minutes for police, fire and emergency medical services responding to residents and businesses on a busy day.