Blame the fountain: Dayton pedestrian bridge will cost $2.8M to replace

Five Rivers MetroPark will spend three times the original cost to replace a popular pedestrian bridge near RiverScape that closed in October for safety reasons.

The Deeds Point bridge, which cost about $815,000 and opened in 2003, rusted from the inside after years of being splashed by water from a nearby fountain in the river.

MetroPark has received grant funding to help pay for the estimated $2.8 million replacement project, and officials said they hope the new bridge will open in 2021.

“We know how popular it is, how important it is to connect all those green spaces north along the river to downtown,” said Carrie Scarff, Five Rivers MetroPark chief of planning and projects. “There’s been so much development right at the doorstep of that bridge, and it’s an important connection in our regional bikeway system.”

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Five Rivers MetroPark has been awarded a $2.1 million grant from the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission to help pay for the project. MetroParks will pay for the rest of the costs, which include engineering, design and construction.

The project was one of 21 that received $26.6 million in federal transportation funds.

“This bridge provides an important connection between the Great Miami River Trail and downtown Dayton and due to its deteriorating condition the bridge is currently closed,” said Ana Ramirez, the planning commission’s director of long range planning and engineering.

MetroPark worked closely with the regional planning commission and RiverScape partners to get this project on the fast track, Scarff said.

Work is expected to begin to replace the bridge in 2020, and the goal is to open the structure the following year.

The concrete decks and metal superstructure need to be removed and replaced, but the piers in the river are fine, Scarff said.

The bridge will need to be made using new materials to avoid future rusting problems, possibly such as galvanized steel, but those decisions will be made during the engineering process, she said.

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When the bridge was designed and built, the engineering world was not aware that weathering steel can rust if exposed to consistent water spatter, Scarff said.

The bridge is near a five-stream fountain in the river that activates roughly on the hour during daylight hours between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The eight-minute display shoots water high into the air, and when there’s wind from the west, water hits the bridge.

Montgomery County built the bridge as part of the RiverScape MetroPark project. Five Rivers took ownership of the RiverScape improvements later, after the project was completed.

The bridge was expected to last much longer than 15 years.

No one knew the structure could rust like it did, so while it was unfortunate, really no one’s at fault for the bridge’s problems and closure, Scarff said.

Last year, MetroPark paid to replace a tree tower at the Cox Arboretum MetroPark that became unsafe because of rotting in the logs.

Scarff said MetroPark didn’t build the bridge, but giving the community desirable and “wonderful” amenities in a river environment means “things happen.”

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