HAMILTON, Ohio -- For decades, people have had just one direct way east and west through this Butler County city split by a major rail line.
But a little south of downtown Hamilton, a project at least 100 years in the making is underway: The South Hamilton Crossing project -- centered in the area of Grand Boulevard and Central Avenue -- will add a new way to get across town.
The lack of cross-town connections becomes a problem when trains are on the tracks -- especially for Hamilton's police officers, firefighters and paramedics rushing to a call.
Once built, Grand Boulevard will extend west above the four railroad tracks, creating a direct east-west connection to University Boulevard. The new overpass sits next to 60 acres of city-owned land that's ripe for development.
Ciadeli Feliz, owner of a nearby Dominican restaurant, Deli's Cafe, hopes easier access means more customers. It's a simple equation, she said: "More customers, more business, more money."
According to the city's website, the project will also help people getting to Vora Technology Park and Miami University's Hamilton campus.
"Most of their students come from the north, south and west, and this project will then open it up, and they're hopeful that they'll start to gain more students from the east part of the county," public works director Rich Engle said.
Grants are covering a majority of the $32 million project; the city is paying $6 million of the costs. Under current projections, South Hamilton Crossing will be ready ahead of its scheduled December 2018 completion date.
Feliz is ready.
"I invite everybody to try the food," she said. "It's so good."