Tuesday, June 22, 1999

Eyesore finally sees paint

Middletown glad graffiti is going

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Workers paint over graffiti that covered the railroad overpass on Ohio 73 in Middletown.
(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |
        MIDDLETOWN — With every stroke of the paint brush, the ugly, rusted and garish graffiti-covered railroad overpass on Ohio 73 is being transformed.

        Another trestle on Nelbar Street, which also has long been called an eyesore, is now a clean, deep green. Gone are the messages such as “I love Irene,” and “Bill makes me smile,” and the dirty surface that greeted motorists in the area for years.

        “The change is remarkable,” said Ginger Smith, Middletown public works senior administrative assistant, who worked with railroad officials to get the project accomplished. “It looks like a new overpass. You can't imagine the difference unless you saw it before it was painted.”

        Residents are noticing too, she said.

        “Some people who earlier called to complain about the eyesore are calling to say thanks,” Mrs. Smith said.

        For years, city officials have wanted to have the eyesores spruced up be cause they are on busy interstates at gateways to the city.

        This is the first time in at least two decades, and possibly the first time ever, the overpasses have been painted, said Preston Combs, public works director.

        But despite the pleas of residents for many years, the city was unable to work on them because they be longed to Conrail — now Norfolk-Southern.

        Conrail officials had long said they had no program for overpass aesthetics. A Conrail representative said earlier the company had 10,000 to 15,000 overpasses in the country, and keeping them safe is the issue, not making them pretty.

        But earlier this year Middletown agreed to close the railroad crossing on North Avenue because there are others nearby. That provided substantial benefits to Conrail, including eliminating a potential safety risk. In exchange, the company agreed to make funds available to paint the overpasses.

        Conrail officials said the company could not give money directly to the city, but donated $13,350 to the nonprofit Middletown Com munity Foundation, Mrs. Smith said. Middletown made up the balance of the estimated $15,000 contract with Static Grip Inc., Batavia.

        The Nelbar overpass was finished in early June.

        “The goal is to have the Ohio 73 job finished by early July,” said Don Toole, owner and president of the company.


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