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How Massive Steel Beams Have A New Home At Union Terminal

workers move steel beam
Cincinnati Museum Center
Workers move one of eight steel beams through the lower levels of Union Terminal since they can't be lowered into place.

Eight steel beams weighing 12,000 pounds each are being installed to structurally secure expansion joints as part of the restoration and renovation underway at Union Terminal.Crews would normally use large cranes to lower the beams into place. In this case, the beams must be lifted into position.

"They have come in through the loading docks on the north side of the building off of Dalton Street," explains Cincinnati Museum Center President and CEO Elizabeth Pierce. "They then have to get lifted up to the mezzanine level, so you have to come up one whole level. They then have to be air skated into place and then lifted again and air skated into their permanent locations."

That's a whole lot of lifting and maneuvering through the museum. Additional temporary steel support sections were erected to make the move possible.

Crews moving a steel beam
Credit Provided / Cincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati Museum Center
The 12,000 pound beams must be lifted into place from below rather than lowered from above.

The beams are being installed above the Children's Museum and help support the front driveway and plaza along with the building. They're the reason why the Children's Museum was forced to close during construction rather than remain open as was planned. The existing beams, construction officials say, were in worse condition than expected after 84 years of water damage.


The Children's Museum, Pierce says, remains on schedule to reopen sometime in May followed by a special space and aviation-themed exhibit, Mission Aerospace, opening May 25.

Several other special exhibits are planned to open through the summer with the grand reopening on target for November.

According to figures from the Union Terminal Restoration Advisory Committee and Hamilton County's budget office, the $224 million project is on budget. That number increased from $219 million thanks to the Ohio historic tax credits announced in June 2017.

The five-year sales tax voters approved to partially fund the renovation is performing well despite a more than $3 million revenue loss caused by the state changing the way it taxes Medicaid managed care. Based on end-of-year figures for 2017, the county projects an overage of $18 to $21 million once the Union Terminal tax expires at the end of March 2020. All excess funds will go toward future building care and maintenance.

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.