5th St. Viaduct

The 5th St. Viaduct opened in 1938, connecting Columbia Parkway with 5th St. at the eastern edge of downtown Cincinnati.  The 1/2 mile long viaduct descends on a steady grade from east to west across the Deer Creek Valley.  It travels in an elongated S-shape, with the central section diagonal to the street grid below.  The piers were built as not to conflict with the streets below, and so are diagonal to the viaduct itself.  Along with the off-set piers, the long central spans necessitated complicated arched trusses which are unique to the Cincinnati area and are the viaduct's most distinctive feature.  The deck has 4 automobile lanes and a pedestrian walkway along the south edge.

Originally the viaduct crossed Eggleston Ave., numerous railroad tracks, and a mess of typical city streets, but the area is virtually unrecognizable today, having been replaced by expressways and parking lots.  The 3rd St. Viaduct was built nearby in 1959, connecting with Columbia Parkway underneath the eastern end of the 5th St. Viaduct.   I-471was built under both viaducts in 1977, and numerous ramps were built connecting the viaducts to the new expressway.  A looped ramp was built connecting the 5th St. Viaduct's westbound lanes with I-471 south and another was built connecting the viaduct's westbound traffic with I-471 north's 6th St. exit.  Meanwhile a third ramp was built from I-471 north to the 3rd St. Viaduct westbound -- passing through two legs of the 5th St. Viaduct.   Despite the construction of  I-471 beneath, no original sections of the viaduct were demolished and rebuilt to accommodate the 6-lane expressway beneath.  So the 5th St. Viaduct today appears almost the same as the day it opened.

In anticipation of the Fort Washington Way  reconstruction, the viaduct was closed for major repairs on January 5th, 1998, and reopened to traffic in July of that year.  The deck was entirely rebuilt, the trusses were painted green (they had previously been painted brown), and the viaduct's original art deco features were restored, including replicas of the original concrete railings, decorative concrete work, and light fixtures.  A high chain link fence (technically called a "vandal screen") was installed along the viaduct's pedestrian walk as well.

5th St. Viaduct photos

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