By Cassie Kelly | October 23, 2013
With large-scale murals along concrete walls underneath the Oxbow Bridge, one might find the walk from Baker University Center to West Green a little more interesting.
After more than five months of construction on the bridge on Richland Avenue, the project is nearing completion, and one of the newest noticeable enhancements are engravings on the North and South sides of the bridge.
The murals, when completed, are meant to provide historical information for people walking underneath, said Don Dispenza, CEO of Panich, Noel and Associates, the architecture firm the city hired to design the murals.
The one-of-a-kind artwork is part of a project — which also includes adding sidewalk rails, a staircase and lights in addition to reinforcing the structure of the bridge — expected to cost the city about $3 million by the time it is completed early next month.
The South mural, closer to Boyd Hall, is visible now and depicts a river scene representing the bridge’s original purpose: to provide passage over the Hocking River. Swimming creatures depicted on the mural will be images of once-common fish in the Hocking.
The unveiling was a treat for the construction workers, Dispenza said.
“When (workers) took the formwork off the South abutment several weeks ago, we were describing it like Christmas,” he said. “You never know exactly what you’re going to get until you pull the formwork off.”
He and his design team listened to experts to accurately depict what species would be appropriate for the murals — and what the species used to look like.
“It was a community-wide effort,” Dispenza said.
Some of the species seen in the images are rare, while others include snapping turtle, great blue heron and white tailed deer.
The North mural, nearer to the top of Richland, will depict a train to represent the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad, which ran under the north side of the bridge until 1900 when it was moved.
Mayor Paul Wiehl praised the style of new bridge upgrades and said it’s now safer for pedestrians.
The Oxbow Bridge is actually one of five to be built on the strip of Richland Avenue since 1839, said Jessica Adine, project manager for the city’s Department of Engineering and Public Works.
In 2009, a consulting firm graded the bridge in poor condition and the Ohio Department of Transportation would later give it a sufficiency rating of 43.5 percent.
According to ODOT, structures rated below 80 percent should be rehabilitated.
That’s when the city applied for federal funds administered through the state. They were awarded the funding in Jan. 2010, when the planning began, with construction starting this past May.
Read the original story in The Post, here.