- Published on Sunday, 02 June 2013 18:04
- Written by Mark Wright
North Main Street Grade Separation Project
In 1999, Conrail was taken over and split up by Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX Transportation with the latter company gaining control over the line through Wellington's downtown area. With this takeover, train traffic was expected to increase exponentially through town and to potentially create public safety issues by impeding police, fire, and emergency medical personnel. With this fear in mind, Mayor Barbara O'Keefe appointed a nine member Grade Separation Committee to meet with all pertinent parties to find a workable solution for this issue.
After much discussion and a healthy dose of controversy, the committee presented the plan in the map at right. The line in red is North Main Street (State Route 58). As you can see, the plan shows the road swinging northeast in the vicinity of Taylor Street, then turning and crossing under the railroad tracks, then finally rejoining it's present right-of-way in the vicinity of Clay Street. The present right-of-way for North Main Street would essentially become part of Kelly Street as shown in blue. Clay Street and the old North Main Street would both have slight curves where they intersect with the new North Main Street so that the intersection forms right angles .
The map at left became the working plan for the project. Many changes have been made to the plan since this map was made in 2004 for a college project. The buildings shown in red were slated for demolition for the project. Later changes in the plans required that one more house on Clay Street also be demolished, leaving just one house remaining on the south side of the street.
The project is to be completed in several phases.
1. Acquire the necessary property and demolish structures standing in the way of the construction.
2. Construct a temporary set of railroad tracks adjacent to the mainline. This is necessary because the current tracks must be torn out so that a bridge can be constructed to allow the road to pass underneath the tracks. The installation of this bridge could take several weeks and the railroad tracks cannot be shut down that long. Unfortunately, this phase, which has a price tag of over $2 million by itself, also requires the demolition of two homes and a commercial property that would would not otherwise be affected by the project.
3. Dig south approach to the underpass, build railroad bridge, lay rail and reopen CSX mainline tracks.
4. Remove temporary railroad tracks.
5. Dig north approach to the underpass, pave entire new right-of-way, build new intersections for Taylor/Depot/North Main as well as Clay/Kelly/North Main.
6. Move traffic to new right-of-way and place finishing touches on project such as final grading, seeding, etc.