On October 12, the Dayton City Commission approved a construction contract for completion of a new Helena Street Bridge over the Great Miami River, just north of downtown Dayton.
With this contract, the City of Dayton has nearly completed its commitment to replace 11 bridges in Dayton (Montgomery County and the Ohio Dept. of Transportation are also building bridges in the city, bringing the total to 21). The 21 structures represent an investment of $162 million by the City, Montgomery County and the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Dayton’s effort to renew this key component of the region’s infrastructure began with a 1999 study of the city’s bridges. With some bridges approaching the century mark in their service or carrying more traffic than they were designed to accommodate, it was apparent that the City would need to scope out a strategic, safety-oriented approach to replacing the structures.
Dayton’s Department of Public Works first estimated it might take up to 30 years to get the job done. But with an aggressive approach and commitment from the City Commission and City staff, the task was accomplished in less than half that time
Beyond the tasks of engineering, design and traffic management during construction there was another challenge: financing the giant undertaking. By successfully seeking federal and state funds, the City of Dayton was able to cover 85 percent of its construction costs from non-local sources.
“The ability of our engineering staff to complete this task during a financially difficult period is nothing short of amazing,” said Commissioner Matt Joseph.
The first project to be completed (in 2006) was the Findlay Street Bridge over the Mad River. Others would soon follow, notably the Stewart Street Bridge near the University of Dayton, which would become known for its colorful, changeable LED lighting and contemporary design.
Next to be completed is the Webster Street Bridge over the Mad River, a gateway to downtown Dayton from the northeast. The Helena and Webster bridges are scheduled for completion by mid or late 2017.
City Engineer Steve Finke notes that the new bridges are being built with the community in mind.
“Where possible, we are including wider sidewalks and observation decks,” he said. “We want our residents and visitors to find Dayton’s new bridges to be both useful and enjoyable.”