BY MIKE McCARTHY | MIRROR EDITOR — Drivers traveling across the Ft. Meigs Memorial Bridge from Perrysburg to uptown Maumee last weekend couldn’t help but notice a brand-new metal arch stretching high above Conant Street on the Maumee side of the bridge.
The arch is the latest in a series of capital improvements instituted by city officials that are intended to highlight the uptown area and make it more attractive and accessible to visitors who wish to support and enjoy the area’s public gatherings and small business venues.
At approximately 10:00 a.m. last Friday, the 72-foot-wide arch was hoisted high above Conant Street and fastened to its support columns by employees of Henry Gurtzweiler Inc., a Toledo firm that specializes in industrial steel erection services.
Less than one hour earlier, the 5,500-pound arch had been towed from its storage location in the 100 block of East Broadway Street, southward along Conant Street to the bridge site, passing Union School and East Harrison Street along the way.
To facilitate this operation, the arch was strapped from an excavator on one side and a heavy-duty forklift on the other and was transported upside down to the bridge site by the drivers of those vehicles. At times, the top of the arch was dangling within a foot of the road surface during the delicate journey, but the caution exercised by the drivers prevented any mishaps.
Once the arch was delivered safely to the site, a heavy crane operator hoisted it by two straps high above Conant Street, while welders on each side of the street worked to secure it to the support columns.
The entire operation took less than three hours, and the bridge, which had been closed at 9:00 a.m., was reopened to motorists shortly before noon.
The clearance height of the arch ranges from 18 feet, 1 inch from the curb at its lowest point near each of the two side columns to 22 feet at its center point, according to Maumee city administrator Dr. Patrick Burtch. The federal legal height limit for semi-trucks is 13 feet, 6 inches tall.
When fully functional, the arch will greet visitors to Maumee’s uptown business district with a large, rectangular, backlit LED panel mounted at the top of the stylish arch that will read: “Uptown Maumee.”
A host of colorful lighting options will be available to light up the underside of the arch, and the arch can easily be color-coordinated to help promote holidays and special community events such as the Christmas season, Independence Day or Maumee High School’s homecoming weekend, for example.
The lighting features should be functional by next summer, once three other arches are installed in uptown Maumee. The three remaining arches are scheduled to be spaced along Conant Street with locations near Harrison Street, the Village Idiot and the Maumee Indoor Theater.
The arches are produced by AspiredX LLC, a metal fabrication company located in Dalton, Ohio.
Burtch revealed on Tuesday that a second arch is currently being galvanized and painted and a third is being fabricated at the facility. He stated that the plan is for both arches to be installed yet this year, with one being erected near the Maumee Indoor Theater and the other going up near the Village Idiot.
The total cost of the four arches is approximately $588,000, or roughly $147,000 each.
This cost was included in a $24 million low-interest bond that was incurred to finance multiple capital improvement projects undertaken throughout the city, including the uptown Maumee streetscape project, Maumee’s portion of the U.S. 20A construction project, Maumee’s portion of the Anthony Wayne Trail project and Maumee’s extensive water main repair project.
The bond will be repaid over a 20-year period with future Maumee income tax funds that have already been budgeted in the city’s “B” Fund. Those funds are stipulated solely for capital improvement projects and there will be no new taxes incurred for those projects, Burtch explained.