Down and dirty with city's underpasses

SANDUSKY Either clean them up or close them to pedestrians. That's what Sandusky City Commissi
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Either clean them up or close them to pedestrians.  That's what Sandusky City Commissioners said they want to do with the dirty and dangerous underpasses in the city.

"It's about safety," Commissioner Brian Crandall said.

The underpass on Hayes Avenue near Depot Street is considered one of the worst. It's also a route many students walk on their way to and from the nearby Sandusky High School.

"We can't have this -- this needs to be closed," Commissioner Dave Waddington said, walking down the cracking and crumbling concrete steps.

The rumble of the trains overhead echoes through the dark, damp corridor. Though it's only a few yards from one end to the other, the uneven sidewalks lined with litter make the poorly lit underpass less than inviting.

Only a few months ago the commissioners had new lights installed in the subway for safety. The lights have since been smashed with rocks.

Commissioner Dan Kaman said the safety and security of citizens needs to be a priority even though money's tight in the city.

"We can't keep doing 20 things and finishing zero," Kaman said of projects left unfinished by the city.

Waddington said commissioners became aware of the increasingly poor condition of the underpasses during weekend clean-up efforts.

"This is almost overwhelming," he said, surveying the damage in the dark and dirty walkways beneath the railroad. Though the commissioners have tried to keep the trash under control, litter continues to pile up.

Along the west side of the underpass, there's barely room to walk through near the fence that blocks sewer and water pipes.

The commissioners agreed that the west side of the underpass shouldn't be open to pedestrians.

"Security-wise I don't think this a good idea," Waddington said.

"Cut our costs and just have one (walkway)," Kaman added.

Norfolk Southern Railroad owns the bridge structures and is responsible for their maintenance and repair. The Ohio Department of Transportation inspects the railroad bridges to ensure overpasses like those spanning Ohio 4 (Hayes Avenue) and Ohio 6 (Tiffin Avenue) within Sandusky city limits are safe for traffic to travel beneath, said Brian Stacy, spokesman for ODOT District 3.

While maintaining the bridge and supports is the railroad's responsibility, the sidewalks and concrete steps of the underpass are the city's responsibility.

"(The railroad) has got to do their part," Crandall said, adding that the city needs to adequately maintain their property.

The condition of the railroad bridge underpasses and the option of closing them to pedestrian traffic will be a topic of discussion at the upcoming city commission meeting Monday evening.

Want to help clean the underpasses?

WHAT: Underpass cleanup with Sandusky City Commissioners

WHEN: 8 a.m. Saturday

WHERE: Begin at Tiffin Avenue underpass, then Camp Street, Hayes Avenue and finishing at Columbus Avenue