May 3, 2022 - News

Abandoned overpass, a Columbus highway oddity, is torn down

An overhead view of an abandoned highway overpass with a painted message on it reading "WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER."

A message painted on the abandoned overpass along the I-70/71 corridor, seen in 2020. Photo courtesy the Ohio Department of Transportation

One of Columbus' biggest transportation oddities is no more.

State of play: The removal of an abandoned highway overpass just west of downtown has been in the works for years, an Ohio Department of Transportation spokesperson tells Axios.

  • It's part of ongoing construction along the I-70/71 corridor that will allow for widening of those two highways.

Catch up quick: The overpass was once a bridge on Whittier Street near what is now Scioto Audubon Metro Park.

  • Highway reconfiguration has since closed off the area from both sides, leaving the overpass stretch in the middle abandoned.

Since then, it's become a popular destination for urban explorers and graffiti artists.

  • The area was also the site of a major homeless encampment until the city removed it in 2017.
  • In mid-2020, the state allowed local artists to paint a large message along the overpass: "We Are Stronger Together."

A little spooky: WOSU's 2018 deep dive on the overpass noted its "ominous" presence over a bustling stretch of highway.

  • The story offered a now-chilling prediction: "Now that it’s left in ruins, will this highway set the scene for an upcoming zombie apocalypse? Not unless an epidemic hits in the next two years."

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