“All along we’ve said we’d have this open in the first half of this year and we’re going to do that,” said Carrie Scarff, chief of planning and projects with Five Rivers MetroParks.
The bridge replacement project has not encountered any major setbacks and construction crews no longer have to worry about water levels and working in the river since all three spans have been installed, Scarff said.
Scarff said there is still a lot of work remaining, including installing the bridge deck, hand railings, lighting and painting the structure.
She said the new bridge should be completed within roughly the next two and a half months.
The original, 440-foot pedestrian bridge opened in 2003 and was part of the RiverScape project and it was unveiled during the centennial of flight celebration.
The bridge closed in fall of 2018 after inspectors found deterioration in the metal truss of the structure that supports the deck. The bridge was supposed to have a lifespan of around three-quarters of a century.
But the bridge was a new kind of product that featured self-weathering steel that was not supposed to rust like it did, Scarff said.
State engineers and other experts only learned later that continuous water exposure meant the structure would keep rusting, Scarff said.
Water from the fountains in the river got inside the square steel tubes that held up the bridge, which means it rusted from the inside, she said.
The new bridge is made of galvanized steel instead of weatherized steel and it also uses beams instead of tubes, Scarff said.
The old bridge was green, but the new one will be silver, which matches the spires around RiverScape.
The old bridge also was “whitewashed” by constant exposure to the river fountains, and the silver paint should not fade in the same way, Scarff said.
The pedestrian bridge connects RiverScape to Deeds Point, but it also connects downtown and its riverfront to everything that’s upstream along the Great Miami and Stillwater rivers, she said.
This includes Kettering Fields, Island MetroPark, Triangle Park, DeWeese Park and the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.
The bridge also connects the Stillwater and the North Great Miami trails to the Mad River trail, the South Great Miami trail and the Wolf Creek trail.
“It was a fulcrum in a lot of our cultural amenities, recreational amenities and art amenities in the city,” Scarff said.
Deeds Point provides sweeping views of downtown and is one of the most popular places to get photos of Dayton’s skyline.