Fairfield awarded $3M in federal funds to improve railroad crossings

The Federal Rail Administration announced $3 million in funding for Fairfield’s railroad improvement project that would lead to the construction of a train overpass at Symmes Road.

The funding would support the planning and project development work for two adjacent crossings on CSX’s terminal subdivision in the city: Symmes Road and North Gilmore Road. The work would plan for a proposed grade separation at the Symmes Road crossing and perform a feasibility study on the North Gilmore Road crossing for potential closure.

Both crossings are skewed upon approach, limiting visibility for drivers, and average more than 40 trains a day. The Butler County Transportation Improvement District and the city of Fairfield will contribute 20% of the project.

This project also benefits in safety, reduction of congestion, economic development, and improved rail operations.

The Symmes Road Grade Separation Project would be similar to the South Hamilton Crossing project the city of Hamilton did in 2018 at Grand Boulevard. There are several issues at this crossing, the first being the number of trains that use these tracks. In addition to the 40-plus trains traveling through daily, city officials say a growing number of stopped trains block the thousands of vehicles that use Symmes Road. An average of 14,400-plus vehicles cross the tracks every day, according to the city.

Fairfield’s project is one of 63 receiving awards in 32 states, and is one of just two in Ohio, from the Railroad Crossing Elimination Program. The program allocated more than $570 million for projects.

“Given the scale of need and decades of underinvestment in America’s space, we won’t be able to reach every single crossing in the country or fix every issue, but this is a big, big piece of good news and it represents a great start,” said United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

The city applied for the funding at the end of 2022, and in March, Fairfield Council member Dale Paullus, City Manager Scott Timmer, and Public Works Director Ben Mann traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with administration officials from the FRA and CSX Transportation executives to discuss project specifics. Additionally, they met with officials from the offices of Sens. Sherrod Brown and J.D. Vance, and Congressman Warren Davidson, asking for their advocacy for the project.

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