Downtown pedestrian bridge coming back to life

A popular pedestrian bridge in downtown Dayton that closed in late 2018 for safety reasons could be replaced and reopened by the end of this year — which is earlier than originally expected.

Multiple partners have been working together to accelerate the replacement of the rusting structure at RiverScape, and the plan is to begin construction in early summer, assuming the river’s water levels are acceptable, said Steve Stanley, executive director of the Montgomery County Transportation Improvement District.

“The bridge itself is a popular piece of physical infrastructure that supports the regional bikeway network,” he said. “The bridge serves some of the most prominent (downtown) development along the river.”

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On Wednesday, Dayton City Commission approved amending a river corridor partnership agreement with Five Rivers MetroParks to support the demolition and replacement of the Deeds Point pedestrian bridge.

The move gives MetroParks a 75-year lease for the property the bridge is anchored on, which is the expected “useful life” of the new structure.

MetroParks needed to control the land at the nexus points at either end of the bridge to receive funding for the replacement project, which will bring back important connectivity along the river, said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein.

“That pedestrian bridge had a lot of activity,” Dickstein said.

The pedestrian bridge, which closed in October 2018, is expected to be replaced starting this summer. Originally, MetroParks officials said they expected the new bridge to open in 2021.

The existing bridge opened in 2003 and was expected to have a much longer useful life.

MORE: Downtown pedestrian bridge closes, requires repair much sooner than was planned

Existing piers will remain to support the new bridge, which will have open I-beams with extra coating, instead of the enclosed, tubular beams used for the current bridge, said Stanley, with the transportation and improvement district.

The current bridge’s trusses are rusting from the inside, because of condensation that got in, resulting in weak spots, Stanley said.

The new bridge has not been bid, but the estimated cost is about $2.4 million, Stanley said.

About 80% of the funding will come from an allocation from the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, which funnels federal gas tax dollars to local projects, he said.

The rest of the funding will come from local RiverScape partners, including the city and MetroParks, Stanley said.

The Ohio Department of Transportation District 7 is seeking public comment for the replacement project.

ODOT says project will temporarily impact the Great Miami River and Mad River trails, the Great Miami River Water Trail and Deeds Point MetroPark. The bridge connects Deeds Point and the river trails on the south banks of the Mad River.

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