Thursday, April 27, 2000

Designs for Hamilton bridge seen

Some favor the historic look

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Business owners and community leaders appear to favor the Broad Street bridge in Columbus as a model for the expected replacement of the High Street bridge.

        The Ohio Department of Transportation held a meeting Tuesday at the Hamiltonian Hotel to hear comments from historical and community groups about how to replace the bridge using a design that fits in with the historic character of the area.

        Thirty-two people attended the meeting, which featured a presentation by Balke Engineers of Roselawn. Among the features participants like about the Broad Street bridge in Columbus: the railings; the landings, or semi-circles, where pedestrians can stand on the sidewalk on either side of the bridge; and the staircase.

        “It looks more like our existing bridge. It has more of a historic concrete arched-bridge look,” said Ann Antenen, president of Citizens for Historic and Preservation Services.

        The four-lane High Street bridge will be replaced with a six-lane, arched bridge to accommodate additional traffic. The number of motorists using the bridge daily is expected to jump from more than 32,000 now to 43,000 by 2020, a 34 percent increase.

        The next meeting will be in four to six weeks to discuss the aesthetics and design of the proposed bridge, said Craig Kowalski, principal at Balke Engineers. The meeting will be open to the public.

        Jay Antenen, chairman of the Save the Bridge Committee, said the High Street bridge needs to be fixed, not replaced. He said the committee will continue to fight to save the bridge.

        Consultants plan to show computer renderings of the High Street bridge incorporating the features of the Broad Street bridge at the next meeting.

        The new bridge could cost $6 million to $8.5 million, based on similar bridges built in Ohio, according to Balke Engineers. Bridges like the one in Hamilton typically have a life span of 75 years. The High Street bridge was built in 1915.

        Robert J. Paxton, owner of Paxton Shoe Store on Main Street, said he is concerned about the economic impact bridge construction will have on business owners.

        “For our business to survive, we have to draw people from outside Hamilton,” said Mr. Paxton, who attended Tuesday's meeting. Construction “keeps the new customer from finding you.”


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