Newly built Third Street bridge called a symbol of unity

The new Third Street bridge opens about a month from now, and local officials say they hope the new structure isn’t just viewed simply as a way to get from here to there — but instead is seen as work of art and a symbol of unity.

Officials say the new 720-foot bridge that spans the Great Miami river is a major improvement over the structure it replaces.

It took three ribbon cutting to get everyone who was involved in the construction of the new Third Street Peace bridge. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
Caption
It took three ribbon cutting to get everyone who was involved in the construction of the new Third Street Peace bridge. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

The new $17 million bridge looks better and has five lanes instead of four, wider sidewalks, a shared-use path and sculptures and artwork honoring Dayton’s history, said Paul Gruner, Montgomery County engineer.

“There was agreement that our Peace Bridge should speak to African American struggles, our city’s rich history, and the legacy of this important structure,” Gruner said.

Under the Third Street Bridge is an impression of the two Wright brothers along with Paul Laurence Dunbar. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
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Under the Third Street Bridge is an impression of the two Wright brothers along with Paul Laurence Dunbar. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Many of the 17,000 motorists who traveled across the bridge each day until it closed will be relieved when they no longer have to take detours that add time and distance to their trips.

ExplorePHOTOS: Take a look at the new Third Street bridge

On Wednesday, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the Third Street bridge, which closed in early 2020.

The bridge isn’t expected to open until next month, because it still requires some finishing touches to the bike ramps and roadway approaches, Gruner said, and RTA lines need hung.

The new Third Street Bridge replaced the 114-year-old structure. It has taken two years to complete. The bridge will be open to traffic in a month or so. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
Caption
The new Third Street Bridge replaced the 114-year-old structure. It has taken two years to complete. The bridge will be open to traffic in a month or so. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Design work on the new bridge began years ago and community input was a priority, Gruner said.

Artists Bing Davis and Steven Weitzman were aesthetic consultants who helped bring the community’s vision to life, officials said.

L.J.B Consulting employee, Larry Sack designed the lighting for the new Third Street Bridge. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
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L.J.B Consulting employee, Larry Sack designed the lighting for the new Third Street Bridge. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

The bridge has carved images from the original 1963 Peace March, as well as art honoring the Wright brothers, Paul Laurence Dunbar and a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King.

The bridge also has ornate observation platforms and African Adinkra symbols.

Davis said he hopes the bridge will be a destination that draws people to it.

Davis’ studio is located in the Wright Dunbar Business District, which is just west of the bridge.

The new Third Street bridge is nearly completed. Workers are now sealing the concrete and working with heavy equipment near the river under the bridge. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
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The new Third Street bridge is nearly completed. Workers are now sealing the concrete and working with heavy equipment near the river under the bridge. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Weitzman has created public art for major institutions across the country, including a sculpture at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. and a Frederick Douglass statue at U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Weitzman said, “This is your story told by you, through this project.”

A bridge that once was seen as a divider, separating the eastern and western parts of Dayton, is now a symbol of unity, linking the communities, said Jack Marchbanks, the director of the Ohio Department of Transportation who grew up in West Dayton.

From left, Nia Davis, Audrey Davis and Jackie Ewings, all from Dayton, take a selfie on the new Third Street Bridge after the ribbon cutting. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
Caption
From left, Nia Davis, Audrey Davis and Jackie Ewings, all from Dayton, take a selfie on the new Third Street Bridge after the ribbon cutting. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Extensive public input work made sure this bridge reflects the history of the community, he said.

The old bridge was falling apart.

The lower foundations of the former structure were built in 1904, and not too much later one of the piers failed because of erosion and a major rehab was needed, engineering officials said.

A steel superstructure was installed in 1949, which in recent years deteriorated, and the deck especially had issues, and pieces concrete were falling onto a bike path below, officials said.

“This bridge and its lovely artwork will be a focal point for Dayton and Montgomery County,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Judy Dodge, adding it will provide a place where people can gather for celebration and reflection.

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