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Mayor: New Rich Street Bridge To Boost Franklinton

Just in time for its bicentennial, the City of Columbus will introduce a new bridge connecting the west side to downtown. Officials say the Rich Street Bridge will revitalize an old neighborhood that's cut off from the rest of the city. But the new bridge will be the third of its kind.

Franklinton is the birthplace of the city of Columbus. And city officials say it has been cut off from downtown Columbus since the Town Street Bridge closed two years ago.

Some neighborhood residents say not having a easy way over the river makes it inconvenient to get to downtown. Carol Stewart leads the Franklinton Area Commission.

"Right now if we want to go to the courthouse, we go to Broad Street and go back around Civic Center Drive; or we get on the freeway, but I do not like that part of the freeway so I don't get on the freeway," Stewart said.

And Stewart is right; the only way to get from Franklinton to downtown is via the Broad Street Bridge or Interstate-71. That's because Main Street Bridge is also being replaced. The arching bridge is set to open later this year.

The more traditional Rich Street Bridge will open the following year, and then Franklinton will have plenty of river crossing options. The Rich Street Bridge will be the third span within a half mile along the Scioto River downtown.

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman says however the Rich Street Bridge is a must.

"The key here to this neighborhood is its access and its connectivity to other things. And a bridge to the north - access to the north - and access to the south isn't sufficient. It has to have access throughout. Not just for some, but for all people," Coleman said.

The bridge is expected to cost more than $32 million. A combination of federal, state and local dollars are paying for it. And Coleman predicts hundreds of jobs will be created during the bridge's construction.

"But beyond that, what it will do is on the west side of the river, in the Franklinton Area, it will create jobs there after it's constructed. Because the greater the access is the more opportunity for economic development on the west side," the mayor said.

The Rich Street Bridge will feature ribbon arches below the deck and will be made of steel which is considered more structurally sound than concrete. The West Bank Park will also be rebuilt and improved as part of the project.