This bridge is an attractive concrete arch bridge. Structurally, it is simple with its closed spandrel design, and solid parapet railings. However, the architectural detailing on the arches and the railing is what makes the visual difference on this bridge. The bridge retains good historic integrity with no major alterations aside from a coating placed on the arches.
Dayton at one time had an impressive collection of concrete arch bridges, one of the finest in Ohio. In 2006, HistoricBridges.org made a bad decision to bypass Dayton's bridges in favor of bridges elsewhere in the region. Since that time, Dayton has demolished half of its historic concrete arch bridges. As of 2015, the remaining three face a future that is no brighter. As of 2015, this is the only one of the beautiful historic concrete arch bridges that is not slated for demolition. While it is a nice thought to imagine that Dayton would have the common decency to at least preserve this one last example, that may be expecting too much from a city that has refused to preserve even the most beautiful and least deteriorated of its concrete arch bridges. It is sad to see a city throw away its heritage so carelessly, but that is what Dayton has done. Yet Dayton does not deserve to be singled out as unique in Ohio... Columbus did the same thing! Its a stark contrast to neighboring Indiana where many concrete arch bridges have been preserved.
Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory
The bridge carries a 4 lane street and sidewalks over the Mad River in Dayton. At the NW quadrant is Deeds Park with a riverside greenway and recreational fields. At the NE quadrant is a parking lot. Beyond the SE quadrant is a brownfield, and beyond the SW quadrant is a parking lot associated with the minor league baseball stadium.
The 3 span, 351'-long, reinforced-concrete, elliptical arch bridge is supported on concrete abutments and piers with horizontal scoring. The two piers are bullnosed. The flat-panel concrete parapets step out over the U-shaped wingwalls. The parapets are set off from the spandrel walls by a stringer course with dentils. The spandrel walls have incised panels accenting the arch ring.
Integrity of materials has been impacted by gunite coating (ca. 1960). The arch intrados is spalled with exposed reinforcing bars especially near the edges of the arch ring. Numerous concrete patches of the arch ring.
Summary of Significance
The 1916 reinforced-concrete arch bridge is nicely proportioned and detailed, reflecting the City Beautiful tenets that inspired Dayton to build a large number of arch bridges over the Great Miami and Mad Rivers during the early 20th century (Criterion A & C). This bridge, while not as architectonic as some that once graced the city, has increased in significance over the years as most of the other bridges have been replaced. Many of the bridges were built following the great flood of 1913. As of 2009, the inventory indicated that three multi-span arches remained in the city (Webster, Helena, and Keowee) dating from 1916 to 1931. This is the oldest of the remaining arches, and although the materials have been altered by gunite and patching, it still retains sufficient integrity of design and materials to convey its significance as a bridge built during the City Beautiful Movement. The other two remaining arch bridges were eligible in prior ODOT inventories. Based on its age, context, and comparison with the surviving population, it is recommended that the bridge be elevated from the non-select status to eligible. The 2007-08 ODOT Historic Bridge Inventory Update (Phase 1A) has identified more than 225 extant, reinforced-concrete, closed-spandrel arch bridges dating from 1896 to 1959. Fewer than 30 examples date to before 1910. These tend to represent innovative technology or early attempts at exploring the aesthetic qualities of the moldable material; earlier examples tend to have higher historical and technological significance than the later examples. Use of the reinforced-concrete, closed-spandrel arch technology reached its height during the 1910s and 1920s with more than 80% of Ohio's surviving examples dating from those two decades. The later examples generally do not represent innovative technology, although they sometimes have high aesthetic merit or significant settings/contexts."Closed spandrel arch bridges are the most basic of reinforced concrete bridge types. Closed spandrel means that the area between the deck and the arch ring was filled in. The spandrel wall actually serves as a retaining wall in the bridge, holding the fill material. Live loads are borne by the fill material and by the spandrel walls. The arch may be constructed either as a single structural element (barrel) or in separate parallel longitudinal ribs. The barrel arch design has some structural and visual similarities to stone arch bridges. The barrel arch is also sometimes faced with brick or stone, making it appear similar to a masonry arch bridge. This type of bridge is suitable for short span lengths. Closed spandrel concrete arches predate open spandrels, as the closed spandrel type harkens back to the stone arches that the earliest forms imitated. This type was not built for long as engineers realized that significant material could be saved and a reduction in weight could be achieved by eliminating the filled section. Hence, open spandrels were born. Filled spandrel concrete arches date primarily from the earliest decades of reinforced concrete (1890s through 1920s). They are not as common as many of the standardized bridge types built during this same era, such as concrete slabs and girders. They are significant because they are not common and represent the evolution of concrete technology. To be considered significant, filled spandrel arches should have integrity, through the retention of their character-defining features: arch ring, barrel, spandrel wall, railing or parapet, end posts, piers and/or abutments and wingwalls." [From: A Context for Common Historic Bridge Types by Parsons Brinckerhoff, October 2005]
The superbly proportioned arch bridge is a rare local example of a once-common type in Dayton. The other arch bridges have been replaced.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.
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