Hamilton’s ‘game-changer’ railroad overpass dedicated, promises growth

Motorists in Hamilton will soon not have to dread the blast of horns announcing a coming trains delaying their commute thanks to a new railroad overpass dedicated Saturday.

The Jim Blount South Hamilton Crossing Overpass, which for the first time will give east-to-west commuters a second option in avoiding railroad tracks that cut north-south through the city, was praised in a ceremony by local and state officials as a new key to regional growth.

“It’s a big game-changer,” said Hamilton May Pat Moeller as more than 50 city, state officials, business and community leaders and residents gathered atop the $32 million, five-lane overpass scheduled to open to traffic next month.

ExploreMORE: New south Hamilton railroad overpass will add safety, boost economic growth

Far below where the crowd stood was the historical problem that has plagued the Butler County city since the early 20th Century – four lanes of frequently used railroad tracks that periodically brought all traffic to a stop each day.

“In the terms of safe transportation to connectivity east to west, to opening up an area for development. It’s a big game-changer not just for our residents but for the entire Butler County area,” Moeller said.

“It’s an exciting day for Hamilton.”

Named after the late Hamilton historian and Journal-News editor Jim Blount, the overpass that will soon extend Grand Avenue west to University Avenue. will free motorists and truck traffic from having to drive over four lanes of railroad tracks.

Blount was a passionate advocate for the overpass, touting it for decades.

ExploreMORE: Jim Blount’s obituary

Currently the only east-west roadway unimpeded by railroad crossings is Hamilton’s High Street, which employs an often-crowded underpass for motorists seeking to avoid the north-south train passage through the city.

The city’s growing Miami University Hamilton regional campus will now be easier to access, as will another route to the recently announced, $144 million Spooky Nook At Champion Mill development, which is projected to bring more than a million visitors to its location along the Great Miami River.

ExploreMORE: Ground breaking for Hamilton’s “transformational” Spooky Nook development

The overpass will open to traffic at a yet-to-be-announced date in December.

Ohio Senator Bill Coley (R-Liberty Twp.) said the overpass, which city officials had sought for decades and finally were able to finance in part with state funds, “brings safety to the community but it also brings economic development.”

Nearly half the estimated $30 million project was funded through grants, including from the Ohio Department of Transportation’s TRAC program.

Among key agencies that worked for the project were The Butler County TID, the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments and state development officials.

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