Keowee Street detours delayed, but bridge will close for almost 2 years

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Keowee Street detours delayed, but bridge will close for almost 2 years

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Ty Greenlees
The Keowee Street Bridge over the Great Miami River will close in December, as soon as the new Helena Street Bridge is opened, says Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner. A construction bid of $8.8 million has been awarded to Eagle Construction for a new bridge and demolition of the existing bridge will take place first. The Keowee St. Bridge is the last of the filled arch bridges in Montgomery County and carries about 20,000 cars daily between Harrison Township and the City of Dayton. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Replacement of the Keowee Street bridge over the Great Miami River will stymie traffic between Dayton and Harrison Twp. and impact some area businesses for almost two years beginning within weeks. 

“It’s never a good situation, but it’s one where the bridge needs to be redone,” said Jeff Davis, general manager of J&T Dayton Sandblasting Services that sits in Harrison Twp. on a block of North Dixie Drive that will be closed for months.

“It’s a necessary evil,” he said.

Detours will be in place until at least September 2019 for replacement of the deteriorating, 86-year-old bridge — the final one of its kind found locally, said Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner.

“It’s the last of the filled-arch bridges in the city of Dayton,” Gruner said. “They were very labor intensive. You really can’t afford to rebuild them like this in the present time.”

In addition to the 20,000 vehicle drivers who cross the bridge daily between Dayton and Harrison Twp., users of the Great Miami River Recreational Trail and paddlers on the river will also be confronted with detours and portages.

The date the Keowee Street bridge will close has been revised to Dec. 18 at the earliest, or until the new Helena Street bridge nearby reopens, according to the county. Detours from the Helena Street bridge — set to open soon — have routed traffic over the Keowee Street bridge during that year-long construction project.

Patrons of Ben’s Batteries in Harrison Twp. will still be able to reach the business, but owner Robert Kucharski said he’s not entirely sure how.

“North Dixie will be closed to through traffic, but you should still be able to get here. That’s what I’m hoping,” he said. “If they can’t get here at all, I might as well shut the doors. That’s not going to be good.”

When traffic starts flowing again in late 2019, it will cross a new 550-foot long, pre-stressed concrete I-girder structure, Gruner said.

“It’s not a real fancy bridge, but it will be a nice looking bridge when it’s finished,” he said.

Sidewalks, now six-and-a-half-feet wide, will be widened to 10 feet on the new five-lane bridge. The center pier will feature overlooks on each side of the bridge with girders painted medium blue.

Along with neighboring residents and businesses, Gruner said the department also worked on the design with the region’s rowing community, leading to wider spans that will allow two side-by-side sculls to pass underneath.

The contractor, Eagle Bridge Company in Sidney, is already prepping for demolition and working on the bikeway and river portages, Gruner said.

Total construction engineering and construction costs on the project total about $9.3 million, more than 70 percent coming from federal bridge and surface transportation funding. About $1 million was additionally spent on design engineering and right-of-way acquisition, according to the engineer’s office.

In September, the county opened a new $7.3 million bridge on Harshman Road over the Mad River near the entrance to Eastwood MetroPark. After the Keowee Street bridge, the next big Montgomery County bridge project will the the Third Street bridge in Dayton that will span about 700 feet over the Great Miami River with a projected cost of $20 million, Gruner said.

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