Since 2000, the City of Columbus has been proactively embarking on the revitalization of the Downtown area, including the renovation of several office buildings, as well as the construction of new condominiums and an amphitheatre. The Downtown Columbus skyline will soon be changing again due to the addition of a revolutionary design structure—the new Main Street Bridge. The bridge that previously stood in its place, running along the Scioto River, was closed in 2002 due to deterioration, 65 years after it opened in 1937. Construction, which was initially scheduled to be completed in June 2009, is now scheduled to be completed this August.
The Main Street Bridge, an inclined, single-rib tied arch design, is the first bridge of its kind in the United States, and one of only five in the world. The bridge’s large sweeping lines in the city’s skyline will add to its aesthetic appeal, but the design also offers revolutionary functionality as well. The 10 degree arch, one-of-a-kind structure is the first bridge of its type to incorporate pedestrian and vehicular decks. “The inclined single-rib tied arch separates the vehicular traffic from the pedestrian traffic,” said Daniel O'Rorke, P.E, senior project manager of DLZ Ohio, Inc. “The pedestrian deck moves out away from the vehicular deck and back in as you cross the bridge. The pedestrian deck also rises above the vehicular deck as you cross the bridge.” DLZ Ohio, a Columbus-based architectural, engineering, and environmental services company, worked in conjunction with Dr. Spiro Pollalis, a Harvard University professor of design technology and management, and with HNTB Corp., the lead structural design firm. During the planning phases, two other designs were considered—a split ribbon arch and a replication of the previous bridge, an Art Deco design—but city officials ultimately chose the inclined, single-rib tied arch design due to public preference, according to O’Rorke. In addition to its aesthetic appeal, the construction of the bridge has many implications for the city.
Basic requirements for the structure included the incorporation of high-performance materials to help achieve a 100-year lifespan, and accommodation of current and future vehicles, as well as pedestrian and bicycle traffic from the projected 400,000 residents that will inhabit the area over the next 20 years. The structure was also required to be able to accommodate public festivals that are held along the city’s Riverfront each year. To accomplish this, 3,765 tons of steel and 6,690 cubic yards of concrete were used to construct the bridge, which provides an 18-foot-wide walkway for cyclists and pedestrians and a 35-foot-wide deck that will support three lanes of vehicular traffic.
The $46 million Main Street Bridge project will help in the redevelopment efforts of Downtown Columbus, with several other projects set to revitalize the area through commercialization and new housing developments. “The signature bridge will provide a focal point for the redevelopment of the riverfront along the Scioto River,” O’Rorke said. “It will provide a vital connection between downtown and the Franklinton neighborhood.”
J. Mariah Brown is a technical research writer and the owner of Writings by Design, a comprehensive business writing service company that specializes in business development, promotion, and client outreach. She has worked in a variety of technical and non-technical industries including, but not limited to, Government, Non-Profit, Engineering, Translation and Interpretation, Christian and Women’s Publications, and Fashion and Beauty. She is a graduate of the prestigious E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and is currently pursuing a master's degree from Gonzaga University in Communication and Organizational Leadership.