Council to spend $32K to repair slippery RiverWalk bridge

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 9, 2013 

After a slightly delayed debut Tuesday in their new chambers at the City Service Center, Columbus Councilors OK’d engineers’ plan for addressing a dangerously slippery bridge on the Riverwalk.

About five minutes before the 9 a.m. meeting was to begin, someone inadvertently attempted to go through an emergency exit, setting off an alarm. Despite a half-dozen or more people trying to turn the alarm off, it continued to blare until almost 9:20. Finally, a maintenance worker climbed a stepladder, removed a metal cover and manually disconnected the alarm, setting off a round of applause.

Later in the meeting councilors heard a report from the engineering department on how they plan to remedy the slippery surface of the so-called “covered bridge” on the Riverwalk just north of Rotary Park. The perpetually wet wooden surface has caused many people to fall, including a women who severely broke her ankle.

John Hutchinson, a project manager for the city, said they considered an array of approaches that would have ranged in price from about $25,000 to $75,000. The plan they chose will cost about $32,000, he said.

The plan calls for pressure washing the wood surface to give the new surface cleaner contact, then to coat the 615-foot span with a non-slip coating called Seal-Krete. Workers will also bore a series of quarter-inch holes through the flooring to allow standing water to drain.

The surface has a five-year warranty, but will be inspected and pressure washed annually, Hutchinson said.

Workers will also sand, prime and paint the metal railings, which has not been done since the bridge was built in the early 1990s.

Work on the project will begin immediately, which will require the bridge to be closed intermittently during the 4-6 weeks the work is expected to take. A detour will be posted for Riverwalk users.

All 10 councilors and other officials and city employees attending Tuesday’s meeting appeared pleased with the new council chambers. But Councilor Red McDaniel in particular had a unique perspective on the move.

He is the only member of council who served on the old City Commission which met in the old county courthouse. The makes the present chambers the fifth for him in the fourth building.

When the council left the old courthouse in the early 1970s, it met shortly in the old county annex, on the site of the current East Wing of the Government Center. Then council moved to chambers on the seventh floor of the Government Center, then down to the Plaza Level when its chambers were needed for a courtroom.

“It’s very nice. It’s got everything you could want,” McDaniel said, looking around the new chambers. “I just hope the taxpayers like it, because they paid for it.”

But McDaniel said there was one improvement he would have added to the place.

“I just wish they’d let me bring my old chair over with me,” he said.

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