Anthony Wayne Trail Tunnel at The Toledo Zoo & Aquarium

Renovating the historic tunnel at The Toledo Zoo & Aquarium enabled a WPA-era structure to come alive again after being sealed off from the public for decades.

The Toledo Zoo & Aquarium spans 51 acres and a major local thoroughfare, the Anthony Wayne Trail, runs roughly through the center of the property. A tunnel was built in the 1930’s as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project to enable visitors to safely enjoy the entire Zoo property. Originally known as the Anthony Wayne Subway, this tunnel served visitors to the Zoo for decades before a pedestrian bridge was built in 1997 over the roadway and the well-worn tunnel was sealed off from public use.

Two decades later, the Zoo decided to renovate the tunnel in anticipation of shutting down the the pedestrian bridge for needed repairs and a renovation of its own. The eighty year old tunnel had endured 60 years of hard daily use and two decades of being “off exhibit” (to use Zoo language!) The tunnel renovation called for new elevators, new lighting, fiber optic re-routing, extensive concrete repair/sealing and the addition of painted murals. The renovated tunnel is notably brighter and substantially easier for visitors to navigate.

JDRM Engineering provided the Toledo Zoo with an innovative design for ventilation to keep visitors comfortable as well as cooling for the elevator machine rooms, lighting, fire alarm, and a power distribution rework which all met the project design goals, schedule, and budget constraints. When the WPA Subway was built during The Great Depression there was no need for the extensive utilities required by today’s Zoo. To make the tunnel easier to navigate and provide the Zoo with much needed utility space, JDRM re-routed ceiling mounted utilities to one side of the tunnel, enabling space for the extensive network of utilities required between the two sides of the Zoo. Disruptions to Zoo operations during construction were coordinated with Zoo staff and minimized by our extensive design efforts .

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