City report rates Music Hall pedestrian bridge 'imminent failure,' calls for demolition

CINCINNATI -- What has been a bridge to nowhere for more than a year will soon come down: City officials plan to demolish the pedestrian bridge spanning Central Parkway at Music Hall in the coming months.

In a memo issued Monday, City Manager Harry Black described the bridge -- which connects Music Hall and the Town Center Garage -- as "in a state of imminent collapse" after its most recent inspection. Since the bridge's closure in May 2016, the city's Department of Transportation and Engineering has inspected the bridge's deteriorating condition every other month.

"The risk is too great to allow the current situation to persist," department Director Michael Moore wrote in a report to Black last week. The most recent inspection prompted city engineers to downgrade the bridge's condition rating from 3 -- "Serious" -- to a 1, "Imminent Failure."

The transportation department has temporarily closed two lanes along Central Parkway under the deteriorating floor beams, Moore said.

Problems with the span go back years: It was the only city-owned bridge identified in "poor" condition in the city's 2013 annual bridge report.

Black said his transportation officials did not recommend reinforcing the deteriorating floor beams, as it would be a "poor investment." The cost would be between $50,000 and 60,000, Black said, and it was already understood the bridge decking would be removed eventually.

Officials have estimated replacing the bridge to cost between $2 million and $3.3 million. The cost to replace the ramps connecting the deck to the WCET building and Town Center Garage could be another $3 million to $5 million. The current city budget allocates no money for replacing the bridge.

Some have discussed a longer-range plan that could mean a new bridge plus major redevelopment along the block where the WCET studios are located, including a new studio building, a new parking garage, a new connection to the bridge and a new bridge.

Pending an agreement with a contractor to perform the demolition, Moore said in his report to Black that he hopes partial demolition could be completed by Music Hall's reopening in October.

Previous reporting by WCPO - 9 On Your Side's Tom McKee contributed to this story.

Pat LaFleur reports on transportation and mobility for WCPO. Connect with him on Twitter (@pat_laFleur).

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