Cincinnati will likely move forward with demolishing most of the pedestrian bridge connecting Music Hall and the Town Center Garage. But a City Council majority also wants administrators to work on an immediate plan to replace it.
Otto Budig with the Music Hall Revitalization Committee says it's needed for safe access.
"Imagine if you will that you're one of the attendees to a symphony presentation and there's no bridge, and the shuttle service that 3CDC is suggesting, however well intentioned, is not working adequately," Budig says. "The solution, traversing Central Parkway and then finding your way along the automobiles that are either parked or in the process of parking in the lot immediately south of Music Hall. A dubious beginning to an evening of arts appreciation."
The current bridge is closed to pedestrians, and two lanes of Central Parkway are closed to traffic because of concerns the bridge could fail. There's at least one bad floor beam that's causing concern.
A new bridge is expected to cost $2 to $4 million. Some private donors are willing to contribute $1.6 million toward the project.
City Manager Harry Black said last week in a memo the bridge would be demolished while preserving piers and the foundation if the span is to be rebuilt.
Council Member Kevin Flynn says the group needs to give direction.
"We as a city council can't just say 'Administration build us a bridge,'" Flynn says. "We have to say we're willing to take on that debt for a 25 or 30 year period and we're committing a $100,000 a year towards that."
Black says he understands council's desire that the span be maintained. "We will move very quickly to demolish, preserving the piers, working with the private donors, perfecting the budget."
Some initial city reports indicated the bridge would not be replaced. But some of the private donors who made contributions to renovate Music Hall had apparently threatened to pull funding if the pedestrian bridge was not maintained.
Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld also wants the pedestrian bridge maintained, but he abstained on the plan the committee approved. He believes the city should get an estimate on how much it would cost to rehabilitate the existing bridge before tearing it down.
Editor's Note: Otto Budig is the chairman of the Cincinnati Public Radio Board of Directors.