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Caps Planned for High and Third Street Bridges South of Downtown

Brent Warren Brent Warren Caps Planned for High and Third Street Bridges South of Downtown
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A key design feature has been added to the new High and Third Street Bridges that will eventually span I-70 south of Downtown as part of the I-70/71 split project. The new bridges will feature caps that will have the capacity to hold buildings, just like the I-670 cap that connects the Short North to Downtown. The caps would be built initially as “green caps” with park-like features, unless a private developer steps up with a plan to build on them.

The new bridge designs were unveiled during a March 19th meeting put on by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). Chris Hermann of project consultant MKSK explained that a number of factors have aligned since the last major public meeting in early 2012, when bridges without caps were presented.

“With the continued resurgence of the River South area, and the improved economy, the different stakeholders realized the potential,” he said, adding that ODOT was always ready to accommodate caps, but additional funding from the City of Columbus and MORPC was needed to make them happen. “All of these designs and improvements, as well as the improvements to the urban avenues are made possible by the great partnership between ODOT, the City of Columbus, and MORPC.”


Views of Third Street Bridge showing green cap and retail cap.

Also presented at the meeting were plans for the Front Street Bridge featuring a green walkway meant to serve as a gateway to Downtown, and a Fourth Street Bridge with wide sidewalks and planters. The Front and High Street Bridges are scheduled for funding in 2017 (as part of Phase 4A of the larger I-70/71 split project), and the Third and Fourth Street Bridges are not scheduled for funding until 2023 (as part of Phase 4B).

Nancy Burton of ODOT explained that the possibility is being left open for more caps in the future.

“All the bridges throughout the corridor will be built with the infrastructure or the foundation to support a cap that’s a wider deck for a building or buildings should a developer come forward,” she stated.

 For ongoing discussion on the 70/71 Project, CLICK HERE to visit our Messageboard.

All renderings provided by MKSK Design / ODOT.


View of Fourth Street Bridge — looking north into Downtown.


Views of Fourth Street Bridge — looking north into Downtown.


View of Third Street Bridge — looking south into German Village.


Multiple views of Front Street Bridge.


View of Front Street Bridge — looking east toward 70/71 highway.


View of Front Street Bridge — looking north into Downtown.


View of High Street park cap — looking north into Downtown.


View of High Street park cap — looking north into Downtown.


View of High Street park cap — looking north into Downtown.

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  • Circle8ght

    where would the on and off ramps be to get to and from the highway? i don’t see any in the plans.

    • For the sake of safety, the ramps are being consolidated as much as possible throughout the entire split. There are main exits from 71N, 71S, 70E and 70W to get you in and out of Downtown, and the new feeder streets will provide access to the multiple cross-streets of Downtown.

      For example – the map of Front Street in the article shows a new section of Fulton Avenue west of Front, running one-way east. That is the offramp from the highway headed into Downtown.

  • JPowell

    There aren’t any ramps. I believe all traffic going downtown will get off on the new Mound Street connector currently being constructed.

    I’m really hoping that this rebuild will not only support caps near the bridges but across the entire span from Grant to Front as well for a possible park cap. It sounds expensive to cap that much but you never know. Better to be ready for that scenario than not.

    • The traffic using the Mound Street connector is just travelers coming from I-70 west-bound into Downtown. There are other points of entry from the other directions.

  • Mack741

    Great news!

  • GVguy

    I love the connectedness that this brings downtown to German Village and the Brewery District. As a Third Street resident in German Village, I particularly like the park cap proposed for Third Street. It would be fantastic to have more green space in an area already fully of concrete and metal. Retail would be welcomed on the High St cap, but the Third St park cap would make for a nice intro to German Village from downtown. Just a shame the proposal is so far off into the future!!

  • Pennpepp

    Such great news to start my Monday! Love these plans!! Retail or greenspace, either way, these caps help correct a huge problem that modern freeways created mid 20th century that created unsightly, unfriendly, even dangerous canyons separating once-again-vibrant neighborhoods from downtown! Columbus’s core is thriving and very forward-thinking! The entire metro area benefits!

  • columbusmike

    Thank goodness the city that basically invented the “highway cap” and has received nationwide praise for it, is actually going to be building more.

    Let’s hope funding gets pushed up so these can be implemented ASAP.

    • GhostOfColumbusPast

      The first true highway cap was built in 1976 in Seattle (see Freeway Park). There have been several “caps” built in the US. While not a true “cap”, the Lytle Tunnel (on top of which is Lytle Park) in Cincinnati’s downtown was built in the 1960’s when Western & Southern paid for a concrete cap to be placed over the then proposed freeway inorder to save the existing Lytle Park. At the time of it’s construction, it was the first park above an interstate road. The Columbus cap at over I-670 at High Street is just the first of a resurgence of highway caps.

      This resurgence is more a part of people returning to urban cores (which were cut off by the highway construction that fueled suburban growth). With the flight out of the urban core that occurred from the 50’s and really hit cities financially in the 80’s and into the 90’s, there was no need for highway capping since people only came to urban areas for work.

      Cincinnati rebuilt Fort Washington Way in the late 90’s/early 00’s with the capacity to deck it over for parks and commercial, but never developed/received the funding to move forward with capping.

      Kudos to Columbus for following through with funding and it is a testament to the economic impact that can be generated from a properly executed urban redevelopment project.

  • ScottUlrich

    It looks like the Third Street rendering shows it remaining one-way southbound to Livingston. Are there no plans to make it 2-way, and if so, wouldn’t this pretty much preclude that from ever happening, given the cap width and configuration?

    • I don’t think ODOT has any current plans to change the existing one-way streets on Third/Fourth or Spring/Long, even though they won’t serve the same function anymore as direct on/off-ramp feeders.

      Hopefully once these projects are eventually completed, traffic-monitoring will reveal that they can be converted to two-way again.

  • KidDigital

    This would be great, I would love to see this happen. I live right around Third and Mound and this would be a huge improvement for the area. Personally, I’m all for a little more green space, but I understand the need for retail space too. Maybe if they did a half-n-half solution… one side of the street for retail and businesses and the other side as a green space; trees, flowers, park benches, lights and outdoor artwork. Someone earlier mentioned this making a good “intro” into German Village and the Brewery District, I absolutely agree! I really hope this is a project the city can accomplish.

  • SusanB

    Finally glad to see the Southside getting some love here.

  • Maxvoltz

    Putting shops on it is ok as long as they remember you need space to get goods truck in, so many leave that out then there is congestion or there has to be someone there through the night for deliveries. Just think before you decide, get the people who live there to decide what they want.

    • It looks like both cap renderings allow for metered parking in front, which could double as delivery loading zones overnight.

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