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City restricts traffic over bridge in Riverfront Park

Wed., April 29, 2009, 1:31 p.m.

Vehicle traffic over the southern Howard Street Bridge span in Riverfront Park is being banned, and pedestrian access across the bridge is going to limited as a result of age and deterioration of the concrete structure.

City officials today announced the new restrictions that will be in place for this weekend’s Bloomsday event.

Deterioration of the bridge was discovered during a recent consultant study of the park’s bridges, which was undertaken to determine if the park could accommodate trolley service, said Craig Butz, manager of Riverfront Park.

The bridge is adjacent to the park Carrousel, Rotary fountain and Clock Tower meadow, and is the southernmost of three former traffic spans through the park on the Howard Street corridor.

At the southern span, a 25-foot-long swath in the middle of the bridge is going to be cordoned off with fencing, and pedestrians will have to use two, 10-foot-wide pathways along the east and west railings. The restrictions are intended to preserve the bridge’s remaining life, he said, and that the deterioration is not considered a public safety risk.

Butz said weight restrictions were placed on the middle steel girder span a few years ago, but the northern concrete span has no restrictions.

“We wanted to get the word out,” he said of today’s announcement.

Butz said the city hopes to make an attractive centerpiece for the park out of the cordoned-off bridge area.

In addition, planters are going to be placed at either end of the bridge to prevent vehicles from going on it.

The main vehicle access to the park is now located off Washington Street at the north end of the underpass tunnel through the park. Light-duty vehicle access is also available near the YMCA, he said.

Trolley service on the Howard Street corridor, if it is ever developed, is going to require improvements to the bridges, he said.



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