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Columbus, Ohio: Inclined Arch Beauty

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I have been neglecting some of the fantastic bridge architecture in Columbus, Ohio until lately, having been in the city many times throughout the last six months visiting friends and enjoying the nightlife. For my last trip, I opted to at least walk around on an unusually warm winter morning and capture the new Main Street crossing over the Scioto River.

The original Main Street Bridge was a multiple span, art-deco open-spandrel concrete deck arch bridge that was constructed in 1937. After it had substantially deteriorated, the bridge was closed in 2000 to traffic. Demolition began in August 2006.

Desiring an iconic bridge to replace the art-deco bridge, the city of Columbus contracted with Dr. Spiro Pollalis, professor of design technology and management at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design to design a new crossing. Also leading the design was DLZ Ohio, a Columbus-based architectural, engineering and environmental services company for project management, and HNTB as a partner for the lead structural design work. The design criteria was established by state and federal transportation officials, city leaders, the state historic preservation office, the Franklin County engineer, area residential and commercial developers that were near the bridge, the Greater Columbus Arts Council and the downtown association, among others.

Part of the financing was derived from $15 million from the State Infrastructure Bank and $8.3 million in city bonds for the bridge design. When bids were let for construction, the lowest construction bid was $44.1 million. The bridge, completed on July 30, 2010, was the first single inclined arch suspension bridge in North America and the fifth in the world to use an inclined arch superstructure. The cost of the bridge was $60.1 million.

It is beautiful and a testament to modern civil engineering. While I lament the loss of the art-deck open-spandrel arch that stood for so many years, it was in poor structural condition and that rehabilitation would only extend its lifespan for only a set number of short years before needing another infusion of funding.

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Further Reading

a. Main Street Bridge: http://bridgestunnels.com/bridges/ohio/columbus-ohio-main-street-bridge/

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