Monday, April 09, 2001

Riverfront action moves east

Reds ballpark, other projects moving ahead

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Construction dust has settled on Cincinnati's western riverfront, but there is a lot more dirt to push, steel to hoist, concrete to pour and money to burn along the eastern shore this summer.

        Fans going to Reds games this year will watch progress on the biggest project, Great American Ball Park, as the stadium rises out of the ground — just a baseball's throw away from Cinergy Field.

        Riverfront visitors will see construction of a parking garage to support the Underground Railroad Freedom Center and new stretches of three old roads — less glamorous projects but equally important to the city's riverfront make-over.

Overview of riverfront construction
        In all, work on the city's eastern half of the riverfront will cost about $30 million less than the $400 million in work to the west.

        And there will be several million fewer headaches this summer because Fort Washington Way has opened, making travel around the riverfront much easier.

        “It's not quite as much work to the east, but that's because we did so much work last year,” said Fred Craig, a vice president for Parsons Brinckerhoff, Ohio, which is overseeing riverfront development.

        “We're following the 18 easy steps to riverfront completion. It's a very complicated process.”

        It will be a few more months, but the new ballpark will begin looking like a ballpark before the All-Star break this baseball season.

        The most visible sign of progress on the ballpark today is the concrete flood wall, now being held up by plywood. The wall is just beginning to stretch around the new ballpark's footprint and will come within 10 feet of Cinergy Field's home run fence.

        A forest of vertical concrete columns, between 25 and 30 feet tall that will support the stadium superstructure, will begin being planted in the ground later this month.

        Those columns will support a concrete deck that will be the ballpark's seating bowl, concourses and parking garage. Then more columns will go on top of the slab to support the second deck.

        As the summer and the baseball season heats up in July, construction managers will begin overseeing the installation of steel and precast concrete — the most dangerous and complex part of building the stadium. Steel will be lifted with a 350-ton crane — twice as large as any of the four now on site.

        John Westrup, who is heading up the project for construction manager Hunt Construction, said the steel is connected with huge anchor bolts imbedded in concrete.

        “It's kind of like an erector set,” Mr. Westrup said. “Columns, beams and trusses all get welded together. The steel goes up a lot faster than the concrete, so we have to let those guys get a head start.”

        During peak construction, more than 1,000 workers will be on site. But whenever the Reds have a home game, there will be at least 20,000 supervisors.

        “We expect to have thousands of ballpark superintendents,” said Project Manager Arnie Rosenberg, referring to fans watching Reds' games. “And we're expecting some phone calls.

        “But it will build a great deal of excitement. It's not very often fans can watch good baseball, and be part of the end and the beginning of a team's era.”

        As summer gives way to fall, fans will see crews continuing with the steel and concrete work, as well as installing the facility's heating and air conditioning systems.

        Mr. Rosenberg said fans will be astonished when they come back for Opening Day 2002.

        “It will really be a ballpark then,” he said. “The building will be enclosed and we'll be installing glass. We'll be real close.”

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