Troy City Council members made it clear they weren’t interested in the city pursuing a pedestrian bridge across the Great Miami River near downtown as suggested in a draft riverfront development strategic plan.
“The bridge seems to me to be a luxury item,” Council President Martha Baker said, pointing out the proposed bridge would lie between the Adams Street and North Market Street bridges, which are a short distance apart.
None of the seven of eight council members attending a work session along with Baker spoke in support of a proposed bridge after seeing drawings of three possible options ranging in estimated price from $7.659 million to $16.756 million for a cable-style bridge.
Council members called the proposal premature and said there were other more pressing needs in the city such as maintaining its streets.
“I’d hate to put a bridge in that only a few are going to use when we have roads out there that need paving,” said Councilman John Schweser.
Council member Lynne Snee said council needed to take a “wider look at our community and what Troy residents are being asked to consider,” including a bond issue for new elementary schools that is on the fall ballot.
Other council members said it was hard to consider the proposal without knowing what changes might be pursued on the river’s north side such as housing, a parking complex or retention of green space. “There just are a lot of ifs now,” said Councilman Doug Tremblay.
The presentation was made to council because participants in a June focus group on the draft riverfront strategic plan listed the bridge as a project they’d like to see given priority, and the deadline for a possible federal funding source is nearing, consultants from MKSK and LBJ said.
The funding being suggested was federal transportation dollars available through the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission. The proposal was for $2.82 million through the MVRPC and $4.2 million as the local match. The grant application would be for money available in 2023, so project estimates included a 20 percent inflation factor, consultants said.
The source of the estimated $4.2 million local share was questioned. Other possible grants such as from the state capital budget, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and foundations were mentioned.
City Auditor John Frigge was asked about possible funding. “We don’t have those kind of funds right now to invest in this type of project, and I don’t think the citizens would want us to,” Frigge said.
The bridge was proposed as a link between property on the north side of the river and the south, which includes the downtown. The area north is home to Hobart Arena, the river levee and the stadium, where there are underused parking lots.
The bridge would connect that area to the south side for those on bikes or those parking vehicles north of the river to avoid searching for parking in the downtown and walk across the bridge, said consultant Joe Nickol of MKSK.
Before council’s discussion, members heard a riverfront strategic plan process update from J.C. Wallace of the Troy Area Chamber of Commerce. He represented the Activate Troy Partnership, the name chosen by those organizations and private investors paying for the MKSK study.
The study is in the draft stage with more public input being sought, Wallace said. The draft study is available on the city website at troyohio.gov.