CINCINNATI — The bottom deck of the Western Hills Viaduct will be closed overnight this weekend as crews install protective netting above the viaduct's intersection with Spring Grove Avenue.
The bottom deck will close from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. May 7-9. The closure will prohibit access to the lower deck from the Harrison Avenue exit on the west end and Spring Grove Avenue on the east end.
The top deck will remain open to drivers, as will the ramp at Exit 2B from southbound Interstate 75.
Cincinnati's Department of Transportation and Engineering announced Tuesday that the nets are a safety precaution to catch loose concrete from maintenance and inspection work along the upper deck.
The viaduct, connecting Queensgate and CUF with South Fairmount, has been deteriorating for years, and concrete chunks have occasionally fallen from its upper deck onto cars driving across the lower deck.
“This area is increasingly difficult to manage through regular inspections and chipping because it is in a narrow opening that is hard see and reach,” said Bill Shefcik, who oversees bridge infrastructure for DOTE, in the announcement. “The netting will catch loose concrete that cannot be seen or easily reached.”
In its announcement, DOTE reiterated the 89-year-old viaduct "is reaching the end of its useful life." The city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County are working to replace the viaduct with a new “extradosed” bridge.
Site preparation is slated to begin later this year, but the existing viaduct will remain until the replacement bridge is finished in 2028.
DOTE said the viaduct is still safe to travel, though the city is upping maintenance efforts "with the installation of the netting this year and the addition of weight limits for certain types of three-axel trucks last year."