The "bridge to nowhere" soon will become the bridge to somewhere.
The Orange Township board of trustees passed two resolutions at its meeting Monday, Aug. 18, that will allow Senghas Construction to connect the township's trails to the new pedestrian bridge over U.S. Route 23.
Construction crews installed the pre-fabricated steel structure over the busy road around 11 p.m. Aug. 6. Route 23 was closed for about 15 minutes as a crane installed the structure, which bears Orange Township's name and logo.
"The bridge looks fantastic," Trustee Debbie Taranto said.
The 740-foot bridge spans Route 23 just north of the Delaware County District Library's Orange branch between Home and Orange roads. Currently, the steel structure is not connected to any trails and is closed to pedestrians and cyclists.
"There is still a lot of work that needs to be completed, including the final connections between the sections, the concrete surface and site work," township Parks and Maintenance Director Beth Hugh wrote in an email.
The bridge's total cost is $2.2 million. The township received $1.4 million from a Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission grant; the balance will come from the township's parks levy dollars.
Currently, the bridge appears to connect two empty fields. The township's Facebook page has drawn comments calling it a "bridge to nowhere."
Hugh said that isn't necessarily accurate.
"There has never been a bridge to nowhere," she said. "I think some of the confusion is that people cannot see the trail from the trees."
The bridge will help tie together proposed sections of the township's trail system and provide a safe connection over U.S. Route 23. Parts of these trails remain under construction, Hugh said.
"All sections of the trail connection from the east side of the bridge to the west side of the railroad tracks are either completed, under construction or currently out to bid," she said.
At this week's meeting, trustees approved funding for two short connectors on each side of the bridge. The segments will link directly to Gooding Boulevard, which connects the bridge to North Orange Park and Aquatic Center on the west side.
The other connector will link the bridge to the end of Orange Township's property on the east side and continue south by Menards.
"The point of this is that this will no longer be a bridge to nowhere. It will be a bridge to somewhere," Taranto said.
The connectors will cost $179,800.
The second resolution that received the board's nod this week allows Senghas Construction to connect the trail from Oak Creek Drive to just short of South Old State Road. The trail will not cross South Old State until the road project is complete.
The township is discussing with engineers how the trails can connect to Powell Road and South Old State.
This project will cost $125,900, primarily grant money, officials said.
Hugh anticipates all trail sections will be complete by the end of October and on time for a formal opening of the bridge.
Earlier this month, the township approved the rezoning of 160 acres on the east end of the bridge. Developer Kerbler Farms plans 127 single-family homes and assisted-living residences at the site.