by Diana Barnum
Some exciting paving projects are underway at the Columbus Zoo and
Aquarium, in Powell, Ohio. A $7.8 million interior expansion project
features patterned concrete and brick paving. And an exterior expansion
plan for a five-lane road is in the works with the Ohio Department of
An entire side of the Zoo is being transformed
into islands complete with a concrete boat channel. Tourists will be able
to meander throughout the area in small crafts, passing by a waterfall.
Upon entering and exiting the attraction, visitors will be able to walk
along a traditionally patterned concrete paved walkway.
“We raised the
entire site two to three feet, brought in lots of fill dirt,” said Karen
Huebel, senior planning designer for the Zoo. “There’ll be themed paving,
cracked to look like packed earth in some areas and donor bricks in front
of the plaza.”
When people invest $50 to $1,000 in the Zoo Commemorative Gifts
program, personally inscribed bricks record names of loved ones or
celebrate special occasions. These donor bricks will pave the walkway.
Other areas of paving will be stamped with everyday things from around
thee zoo like leaves, gravel and sticks to give off a “natural” effect.
This process of creation never fails to bother the subcontractors, though.
Huebel shared how paving contractors always create beautiful, smooth
surfaces for them. But when the job is done, and the Zoo staff takes over,
the going gets tough.
“It bothers them when we drop leaves and gravel
into their fresh concrete to make designs,” said Huebel. “You can tell.
They don’t say anything, they just have to go away and smoke a
After the paving dries, it is painted with acid stains or
Other walkways around the island area will boast colored brick
patterns from Keller Farms Landscape and Nursery of Columbus.
use an excavator to bring the bottom up, layering,” said Kimberley
Fleming, Keller’s project manager. “It’s heavy, heavy work. We backfill
with gravel to get drainage.”
Keller’s crew also uses an 800-series
Bobcat. Their colored bricks are supplied by Oberfield,’s Inc. of
One problem the Zoo has right now is how employees gain
access to the Zoo from their headquarters on the other side of Powell
Road. Crossing the road is like a Stephen King nightmare. A dip in the
road just before Zoo headquarters, makes it impossible for fast traveling
cars to see employees cross the road. Likewise, pedestrians are unable to
see oncoming traffic until the last moment. All of a sudden, a vehicle is
speeding right towards them.
But a land swap with ODOT will change all
of that. Powell Road will be moved south to an undeveloped section of the
zoo. The new section will have five lanes and a new entrance to an
expanded parking lot. The zoo is giving the right-of-way for the new road
to ODOT. In exchange, the Zoo gets the right to tear up the old section of
road, after the new one opens.
FOR ODOT this means $2.5 million for
realignment of Powell Road, but it also means no more dangerous
intersection. They had originally planned to improve the operations in
that area, but funds were not available. So the zoo swap actually means
about $1 million savings to ODOT in land acquisition costs.
benefit is that it allows us to build a thoroughfare,” said Ray Lorello,
planning administrator for ODOT District 6. “Otherwise it would’ve put the
costs into “track project” - a large package deal with other
The project is scheduled for 2005. Contractors will be able
to bid possibly in the Fall of 2004 through the traditional ODOT process
via their central office.
“As new construction, contractors can begin
in winter months and do paving in the spring of 2005. There’ll be very
little maintenance of traffic early on. It’s green field,” said Lorello.
“Geometric issues relative to O’Shawnessy Dam and Rt. 257 are still under
way. We’re designing it in-house.”
Plans for the old Powell Road
section include maintaining a service entry and the creation of an African
Plains area. Part of the Plains area were home to the New Hope Reform
Church, but a signed deal swapped them acreage in another area for church
members to rebuild. The zoo bought the church building and will pay
$30,000 per acre for their remaining 7.6 acres while giving a three-year
lease to remain onsite until the new church is built.
interested in bidding on zoo projects, can find about bids in the Columbus
Dispatch. A zoo staffer advised, “Don’t wait until the last minute to bid.
You’re too prone to overlook something important.”
For more information
about these paving projects, contact the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, at
9990 Riverside Drive, Powell, Ohio 43065. Call: (614) 645-3550. Or visit
their website at www.colszoo.org . Contact the Ohio Department of
Transportation at 1980 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43223. Call: (614)
644-6584 or page (614) 630- 6035. Visit their website at