Not just a blah fence: ‘Billy Yank’ coming to Hamilton overpass

Crews hired by ODOT are putting up a new fence at the Jack Kirsch Overpass in Hamilton that will feature an image of Billy Yank, the guy atop the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers monument a few blocks to the west, along with the date, 1791. GREG LYNCH / STAFF
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Crews hired by ODOT are putting up a new fence at the Jack Kirsch Overpass in Hamilton that will feature an image of Billy Yank, the guy atop the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers monument a few blocks to the west, along with the date, 1791. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

A highway overpass that serves as an entryway to Hamilton’s downtown is about to receive a vandal-proof fence with a visual upgrade: An image of city symbol “Billy Yank” and the year Fort Hamilton was completed: 1791.

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As crews working for the Ohio Department of Transportation make progress on expansion joints and replace the asphalt surface on the Jack Kirsch overpass above High Street, they also are installing a fence that is designed to keep people from throwing things onto the highway below.

“They requested aesthetic upgrade,” said Brian Cunningham, spokesman for ODOT District 8. “The city agreed to pay 100 percent of the cost of the upgrade above the standard vandal-protection fence.

“We have a standard, blah, type vandal fencing. So what some communities do, they decide to enhance that a bit.”

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A lot of communities add design features to create gateway impacts — something more than just a chain-link fence, Cunningham said. The cost of the visual improvements will be “about $150,000,” he added. The complete bridge rehab will cost about $1.6 million, with related work on sidewalks that bring the total cost to about $1.9 million, he said.

City Public Works Director Rich Engle said the bridge work is being done by Eagle Bridge Co., and because of the location, “We’re putting in a decorative vandal-proof fence that has the city’s Billy Yank logo on it, and the year under it.”

The work should be done in the next several weeks, Engle said.

Billy Yank is the 3,500-pound, 14-foot-tall bronze statue of a Civil War soldier that stands atop the county’s Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument south of High Street along the eastern shore of the Great Miami River.

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