WILMINGTON — A host of people attended a groundbreaking ceremony for a new road being built in Wilmington that will eventually connect U.S. 68 with Airborne Road. For now, the current phase of the project will go from U.S. 68 near Ahresty Wilmington Corporation to Cuba Road.
The impetus behind the Airborne Connector project was recent expansion at the Ahresty Wilmington Corporation, an aluminum die-casting manufacturer which now employs 868 workers, and has historically had safety issues and concerns caused by the current railroad crossing at Ahresty Wilmington Corporation, according to a press release about the groundbreaking. As part of this project, a new, public at-grade rail crossing will be constructed with warning devices, lights, gates and a traffic signal on US 68 South.
Fadi Al-Ghawi, of Ahresty, said the road will be a boon to the company.
“In the past 20 years, we’ve probably had three major incidents where we shut down completely,” Al-Ghawi said.
One of those, he said, was when a semi-truck was hit by a train. The driver survived, but the company shut down for hours. In another incident, the road was shut down for three days, and Ahresty had to build its own service road through a field.
Wilmington is expected to spend $185,000 for safety improvements where the road intersects with Cuba Road. The total cost is estimated at $1.9 million, most of which comes from grants and private support.
Clinton County Regional Planning Commission applied for the grants. Taylor Stuckert, CCRPC’s executive director, said most of the project costs are being paid by the Ohio Public Works Commission, Jobs Ohio, the Ohio Department of Transportation, the ODOT Division of Jobs and Commerce and a donation from Ahresty.
Stuckert said CCRPC applied for the first of those grants in August, 2014, and he thanked a list of people and organizations for help with the project.
The 2015 Union Township-Wilmington Land Use Map identifies this project as phase 1 of a two-phase connector between US 68 South and Airborne Road — creating a southern bypass around Wilmington. Phase 2 of the connector is not currently scheduled nor funded.
Cox Paving was awarded the contract for the road work, with a projected start date in mid-June and an expected finish date of November 15, 2016.
“Cox Paving is looking really forward to building a nice road that Ahresty, the state and the county can all use for a long time,” said Rick Cox. “We want something Ahresty and the community is going to be proud of.”
Cox said the work will begin at the U.S. 68 part of the project and proceed to Cuba Road.
“Come back in November,” Stuckert told those gathered, “when you can drive on it.”
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.