Springfield board president says bridge could have avoided tragedy

By Tanieya Lewis - bio | email

Posted by Lisa Strawbridge - email

HOLLAND, OH (WTOL) - As Springfield High School mourns the loss of a student struck by a train, School Board President Ev Harris says the accident could have been avoided if a bridge project had been pushed through.

Harris was part of the orignal committee to build a bridge that runs through the tracks, a plan he says has been in the works for 20 years. "Everytime this subject has been brought up, it's always, 'There's not enough money available,'" he said.

The Ohio Department of Transportation has come up with a design plan. It's an underpass with walkways on both sides and a roundabout at the Hall Street and McCord Road intersection.

Though the school board supports the plan, Harris says it's up to Lucas County to push it forward.

Lucas County Engineer Keith Earley says the state reserved nearly $9 million in federal funding during the Taft Administration. However,  the entire project will cost more than three times that amount.

In a recent letter to Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur's office, Earley says donors are committed to the project. The Toledo Metropolitan Council of Governments set aside $7.5 million. The railroad company has put up $1.3 million. The Federal Rail Adminstration has promised $885,000. The County engineer's office has also guaranteed $3.5 million.

That adds up to $21 million, which is about $15 million short of the estimated cost.