Megan O’Callaghan, Deputy City Manager/COO, City of Dublin
City Official and engineer for the Dublin Link bridge project reflects on the project and what’s to come
American Infrastructure: The Dublin Link is the longest single tower “S” shaped suspension bridge in the world. As the Deputy City Manager and engineer in the project, how did you help in achieving this feat?
Megan O’Callaghan: We assembled an amazing team from around the globe to carry out the vision of Dublin City Council and the community for a landmark pedestrian and bicycle bridge that would link the east and west sides of the Scioto River. The expertise and experience of the professionals we had working with us to design and build this unique and complex structure were second to none.
Works projects were deemed essential, so we were committed from the beginning (of the pandemic) to continuing that important work safely.”
AI: How has the City of Dublin managed to work on infrastructure projects during the COVID-19 pandemic?
MO: Public Works projects were deemed essential, so we were committed from the beginning (of the pandemic) to continuing that important work safely. The City of Dublin implemented a robust safety and sanitation plan at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sanitation protocols were put in place for all City facilities and vehicles. City leadership developed a “Daily 5” checklist, which guided our employees to wear a protective face covering; conduct a daily health assessment; maintain good hygiene; clean and sanitize work places, tools, and vehicles; and limit capacity and maintain physical distancing. The policies were reviewed regularly and updated to meet current local, state, and federal health guidelines. All these proactive efforts have served the City well and, despite the COVID-19 crisis, infrastructure projects have been delivered to the public and essential City services provided.
AI: What was your favorite part in the construction/design process of the Dublin Link?
MO: This has been a once-in-a-career experience and the entire process was interesting so it would be very hard to pick a favorite, but there are a couple of significant milestones that come to mind. Watching the cranes meticulously “thread” the steel girder through the “eye of the needle” and seeing the ‘S’ curve alignment take shape were spectacular. Also, witnessing the cable system arrive at the site after making the long trip from Italy was an exciting day for the entire team. The arrival of the cables was something the project team had looked forward to for nearly a year following months of extensive testing and many long meetings among experts from California, New York, Italy, Kansas, Germany, and Ohio. What I have enjoyed the most is seeing the entire community embrace and enjoy the final product.
AI: Can you talk about the importance of the Dublin Link and larger developments being made in the Community Plan?
MO: This has been a vision of the Dublin community for decades. Dublin City Council first endorsed a plan to develop a scenic riverfront park and suspension bridge over the river in 1986. Then in 2007, Council adopted The Community Plan, which included the development of a pedestrian bridge linking the east and west sides of the river. A decade later, with funding and land acquisitions in place, construction started and took about three years to complete. With the bridge opening about the same time as the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a popular amenity the public has been able to safely experience and enjoy.
It has already been transformational.The bridge provides a direct connection between commercial, residential, retail, restaurants, and other destinations on both sides of the Scioto River. It is the centerpiece of the walkable Bridge Street District, which includes the City’s Historic District and the new Bridge Park development, connecting them both to create one destination – Downtown Dublin. This area continues to grow, with new tenants opening all the time and more blocks under construction.
AI: What projects does the City of Dublin have in store for 2021?
MO: We have some really exciting things underway and planned in Dublin. We are in the midst of developing Riverside Crossing Park, which is located at the east and west landings of The Dublin Link. The park is on schedule to be completed in 2021 and will provide aesthetic, recreational, and leisure benefits that will complement The Link and highlight the riverfront. We are also replacing one of our outdoor community pools with new leisure and lap pools and a main bathhouse. The goal is to have the pool open for the 2021 outdoor pool season. Construction will also begin on a new roadway that will support the development of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s new comprehensive ambulatory medical facility in Dublin. We also continue to collaborate with tech and automotive companies on pilot projects and proof of concepts using technologies to create our future smart city to serve our residents and businesses.