FAIRBORN – A $3.3 million pedestrian/cycling bridge connecting Beavercreek and Fairborn is set to open this week.
The Wright State Way pedestrian bridge, which spans Interstate 675, connects near the west side of the Beavercreek Sam’s Club and the Fairborn Holiday Inn on the opposite side, will provide pedestrians with a safer alternative route to nearby restaurants and shops.
The Cities of Fairborn and Beavercreek, Wright State University and Clark State Community College will celebrate the opening of the Wright State Way bridge with a ribbon-cutting ceremony 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28.
Attendees should gather on the Beavercreek side of the bridge, behind Sam’s Club, 3446 Pentagon Blvd. In conjuction with the ribbon-cutting, the city of Beavercreek has invited cyclists to join in a group ride to the event, which is set to begin at 2 p.m. on the Beavercreek side of the bridge. Cyclists interested in riding to the event should meet at 1:15 p.m. at the southeast corner of Regal Cinemas, 2651 Fairfield Commons Blvd.
The 467-foot long, 12-foot wide steel-beamed bridge will connect Center Park Boulevard in Fairborn with the intersection of Pentagon and Commons boulevards in Beavercreek.
The bridge, which will be lighted, starts on the Fairborn side at the Wright Executive Center office plaza — across from the Wright State campus — and connects to a bike and pedestrian path near Sam’s Club. The ramp leading to the bridge is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Construction on the bridge began in August of 2014. Two thirds of the project’s funding comes by way of federal dollars (about $2.2 million), and the remaining third is to set to come via local contributions (about $1.1 million). Prior to construction of the structure, no sidewalk or bike lane existed connecting Fairborn and Beavercreek in the area of Wright State University.
Beavercreek City Council unanimously approved the city’s involvement in the project in May of 2014. Other parties contributing to the project included Wright State University and Clark State Community College, to the tunes of $70,000 and $20,000, respectively.
The university worked with the City of Beavercreek and the Ohio Department of Transportation to name the bridge “Wright State Way.” Letters spelling out “Wright State Way” will be placed on both sides of the bridge.
“Wright State Way will give our student population greater access to restaurants, shopping and entertainment, while also creating a convenient corridor to and from the Wright State campus for the Beavercreek and Fairborn communities,” President David R. Hopkins of Wright State University said.
The bridge will make it safer and easier for pedestrians and cyclists to travel to and from Wright State and the Mall at Fairfield Commons and the surrounding area, which includes Soin Medical Center and a Clark State classroom building.
Before the construction of Wright State Way, pedestrians had to cross 675 over the bridge on North Fairfield Road, which does not have a sidewalk.
Tom Webb, director of disability services at Wright State, said the Wright State Way offers an enhanced level of access for students with disabilities.
“Prior to the construction of the pedestrian bridge, our students using wheelchairs and other mobility devices were limited in their options for an accessible and safe route to get to the Mall at Fairfield Commons and surrounding businesses,” Webb said. “The bridge will offer an additional free and green option for students who wish to travel safely and independently from campus to the mall area.”
The bridge will also help area businesses gain new customers who now have more convenient access to their goods and services, Webb said.
“I am also hopeful the bridge will open access to more employment opportunities to Wright State students with disabilities and limited transportation options,” he said.
Ryan Rushing, a political science major at Wright State who serves as the chair of Beavercreek’s Board of Zoning Appeals, said over time Wright State Way will become a landmark remembered by generations of students [and citizens].
“Not only will it provide a safe means of transportation, but it stands as a symbol of Wright State’s commitment to our mission: transforming the lives of the students and communities we serve,” Rushing said, who was a student representative on the Wright State Board of Trustees from 2013 to 2015. “This bridge shows Wright State’s continual commitment to our students and also to the communities that we call home by linking Beavercreek, Fairborn and Wright State further together.”
For more information about the event, contact the Beavercreek Parks, Recreation and Culture Department at 937-427-5514 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greene County News Report compiled by Whitney Vickers and Nathan Pilling.