Lovers of the Mad River Recreational Trail and those who like to ride out to (and through) Eastwood MetroPark will be happy to know that the Eastwood Lagoon Bridge reopened on Monday.
The new bridge was closed March 23 and quickly taken down. Less than a month later – more than two weeks ahead of schedule — the new bridge was back up.
The bridge is a critical link of the regional bikeway network from downtown Dayton to points northeast: Xenia, Yellow Springs and beyond.
Joe Zimmerman, project manager for Five Rivers Metroparks, said the park district wanted to get the bridge and the trail back up and running “as soon as possible” because they knew people were going to be out riding with the spring weather.
The bridge, which cost about $240,000, had to be taken down because Montgomery County inspectors determined in the fall of 2013 that the bridge was not structurally safe for motorized vehicles.
The bridge is made of something called weathering steel, which Zimmerman said had several advantages.
“First of all, you don’t incur the initial expense or environmental impact of painting it,” he said. “And that’s very important to us.”
The long term maintenance costs and those environmental impacts are also much lower, he said, because it will never have to be sand-blasted and repainted.
“That saves us money and saves us from the environmental impact of putting volatile organic compounds into the air,” Zimmerman said.
Eventually, he said, the bridge will turn a dark brown, like the bike bridge over the Great Miami River at Little York Road.
“We don’t like to use the word rust, but that’s basically that’s what it’s doing,” Zimmerman said.
But the rust, he said, will only be on the surface and will never affect the structure of the bridge.
The biggest advantage of the bridge to trail users, though, is that it’s open again.