Monday, September 02, 2013

Innerbelt Bridge

Innerbelt Bridge
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Here are a few photos of Cleveland's current Innerbelt Bridge, which carries Interstate 90 over the Cuyahoga River. Oddly enough this isn't the first I-90 bridge that's appeared on this humble blog; a post just a few days ago covered the Vantage Bridge over the Columbia River. Same Interstate 90, just 2,268 miles to the west.

The Innerbelt Bridge only dates to the 1959, but it's currently being replaced. It was well overdue for repairs when the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneaapolis collapsed in 2007, and it turned out that the Innerbelt Bridge was of a similar design. So local officials decided they'd rather just replace the bridge instead of trying to patch up a bridge with basic design flaws.

The replacement project is proceeding rather quickly, it seems; the westbound span of the replacement bridge topped out just last week. The photos in this post were taken in March 2012 (from the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge just downstream) and at the time there were just a few concrete supports in place, so everything else was built between then and now. I can't help but compare this to our recent ill-fated attempt at building a new Interstate 5 bridge here in Portland. It seems entirely possible to me that Cleveland is simply better at building things than we are.

Innerbelt Bridge

The current bridge replaced the earlier Central Viaduct (1888), which included a swing span over the river until 1912. The swing span was the site of a streetcar disaster in 1895. Under normal circumstances, a safety switch was supposed to prevent streetcars from traveling over the bridge while the span was open. But somehow this switch failed, and a streetcar plummeted off the open bridge into the river on a dark, foggy night, killing nearly everyone on board. The Central Viaduct was closed in 1941 and scrapped for the war effort during World War II.

Innerbelt Bridge

In any case, for project updates on the new bridge, the Cleveland Plain Dealer (the local newspaper) has an Innerbelt Bridge status page, and the project's Twitter account is updated regularly.

Innerbelt Bridge

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