DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Monday afternoon city and county officials held a groundbreaking ceremony at the Third Street bridge in Dayton, signaling the start of a multimillion-dollar renovation project. Over the next two years the bridge will be completely rebuilt after years of structural issues.
The last time this bridge was rehabilitated was 1949. The wear and tear from the past 70 years is evident. Project organizers hope the new bridge will not just unite the city physically, but emotionally as well.
Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner says more than 15,000 cars drive across the Third Street bridge every day. “We had some real problems. Part of the slab fell six inches. We had to do some emergency repairs over a couple years.”
A full rebuild would prove costly, so the county turned to ODOT for help. ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks says, “I’m really, really pleased that using your local artists, including one of my mentors Bing Davis, to create symbols of unity and peace.”
ODOT secured federal funding to cover 95% of the $16 million project. After all the grants and alternative funding have been applied, the county will be on the hook for just $450,000.
Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman says, “I like to look at this bridge as our aspirations and commitment as a community, and our efforts to remove barriers.”
The county wants the bridge to honor Dayton history. Gruner says, “We’ve got bas reliefs in the concrete, formed into the concrete, representing the Wright Brothers, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the march across the bridge.”
So the county invited community members and artists to contribute to the final design. Willis “Bing” Davis is an artist on the Bridge Design Committee. He says, “It’s going to be the kind of bridge that you will invite your neighbors and friends to come and see. And when people visit you from out of town, this is where you want to take them.”
This construction project is expected to take about two years to complete. The first phase will begin January 2, when the bridge closes to traffic.
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