The Keowee Street bridge, one of the most expensive current bridge projects in Montgomery County, is set to open by the end of this month, a slight delay from the original plan.
The bridge was scheduled to open on Sept. 1, and is now open to pedestrian traffic, but not yet open for vehicles to cross.
Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner said the bridge will be open to drivers by the end of the month, likely the week of Sept. 16.
ORIGINAL REPORTING: Keowee Street detours delayed, but bridge will close for almost 2 years
The county plans to hold an official ribbon cutting at a later date.
The Keowee Street bridge is a huge access point into Harrison Twp. The delays further impact traffic between Dayton and Harrison Twp.
This area is also near where one of the Memorial Day tornadoes hit.
“It was like, ‘come on we can’t catch a break,’” said Harrison Twp. Administrator Kris McClintick. “First the traffic reroute and then those businesses were hit. It is going to take years to get back from that tornado.”
While Harrison Twp. is still recovering from the tornadoes, McClintick said residents are looking forward to getting back to normal when the bridge reopens.
Before the bridge closed in 2017, some businesses expressed concerns over losing traffic near their stores to the Dayton Daily News. McClintick said he isn’t aware of any businesses that were forced to close because of a lack of traffic during bridge construction. Twenty to 30 businesses in that area were forced to close after the tornadoes, he said.
“We are lucky that the bridge is near the highway, so as far as services, fire or ambulances, they can just hop on the highway,” McClintick said.
Replacing the 86-year-old bridge will end up costing Montgomery County $12 million.
The old Keowee Street Bridge was the final one of its kind found locally, according to the county. The new bridge will be five lanes wide when it is opened to traffic. The center pier will feature overlooks on each side.
“This will be a great asset to the community for a long time,” Gruner said.
Gruner said the county has had trouble with custom metal railings. The railings are made off-site and installed in large sections. The construction crew had to send some pieces of railing back because they were broken, Gruner said. The railings along both sides of the bridge will act as a crash barrier.
Those railings are now complete. The final thing pushing back the date to open the bridge is a traffic signal at Embury Park Road.
Gruner said the construction crew has installed the traffic signal, but is waiting for DP&L to connect the power and install a meter.
As soon as that traffic signal is finished, the bridge will be opened, Gruner said.
The Keowee Street bridge project fell behind schedule early on due to the difficulty of relocating water and gas mains under the Great Miami River.
The city of Dayton has blamed a massive water main break that happened in February on the county and the contractor working on the Keowee Street Bridge project.
Montgomery County officials and the contractor, Eagle Bridge Co., have denied the city’s claim.
In spite of those setbacks, Gruner said the bridge project was on track to be completed by the Sept. 1 date until they had to send sections of the steel railing back to the manufacturer.
Another item that is yet to be completed, but not necessary to open the bridge to traffic, is installation of light poles on the bridge. That may take place after the bridge is open to traffic, Gruner said.