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Residents and leaders share concerns over funding for rusting and crumbling railroad bridge at Quincy Avenue

N.E. Ohio residents, leaders share Railroad bridge funding concerns
Posted at 8:27 AM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 08:27:41-05

CLEVELAND — Steve Tucky was so concerned about the condition of Cleveland's Quincy Avenue railroad bridge, near East 105 street, that he stopped to take pictures of the rusting and crumbling structure, and sent the pictures to News 5.

Tucky said he's seen the condition of the bridge when he takes his wife to work at the Cleveland Clinic, and wonders when was the last inspection done on the span located on the city's East Side.

“I’ve been by that bridge I don’t know how many times, quite a number of times,” Tucky said. “I saw it I turned around I came back and I couldn’t believe I saw those holes, so I thought I’d take some pictures.”

N.E. Ohio residents, leaders share Railroad bridge funding concerns
Picture taken by N.E. Ohio resident Steve Tucky of a Quincy Avenue bridge support

"Besides just the steel, the concrete supports that are on the outside of that are all crumbling. My wife and friends, they’re just pretty much a gasp when they see the holes in the bottom, and they’re not small holes.”

National railroad safety expert Bob Comer looked at the pictures of the Quincy Avenue bridge and believes the span needs some attention.

“I’m seeing a bridge that I think is between 80 and 100 years old," Comer said. The large vertical concrete that is supposed to be strong and holding up that bridge is terribly crumbled.”

"They are running freight trains over there that have some rail cars that weigh over 100 tons. "Bigger picture, you have to consider the incredible number of railroad bridges that are in Cleveland, in the city limits, and in Cuyahoga County.”

Comer pointed to data from the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis that indicated Cleveland has, by far, the most railroad bridges in the State of Ohio. Cleveland has 238 railroad bridges listed, with the total number of railroad bridges in Cuyahoga County at 308. The next cities on the list are Columbus with156 railroad bridges and Cincinnati with 92 railroad bridges.

N.E. Ohio residents, leaders share Railroad bridge funding concerns
The Quincy Avenue bridge on Cleveland's east side showing signs of rust and crumbling concrete.

Comer believes the Quincy Avenue bridge, owned by CSX Transportation, is an example of how important federal dollars, through the Infrastructure and Jobs Act passed by Congress in 2021, get to Northeast Ohio as soon as possible.

“We would like to know what the Department of Transportation would say about this bridge," Comer said. “CSX must be involved because they own it, they are responsible for it.”

CSX Transportation quickly responded to our story, and told News 5 a 2021 inspection of the Quincy Avenue bridge found the bridge to be safe. CSX Transportation issued the following statement:

At CSX, safety is our highest priority. Bridges across our network are regularly inspected by certified railroad bridge experts and maintained in accordance with CSX policies, which meet or exceed federal regulations.

The CSX Quincy Avenue rail bridge in Cuyahoga County was inspected in 2021 and determined to be safe for railroad operations. Our bridge maintenance program focuses on structural integrity, reliability and safety for railroad operations. It does not emphasize the aesthetic appearance of bridge structures. CSX maintains this and all bridge structures on our network in full compliance with all federal laws and regulations

CSX invests more than a billion dollars annually in our network infrastructure. Investments in our core track, bridge and signal infrastructure increased approximately 1% in 2020, after increasing 7% in 2019, prioritizing investments that provide safe and reliable train operations over aesthetics.

A thorough examination of every bridge on our network is conducted at least once each calendar year, which meets or exceeds regulatory mandates. Using detailed inspection protocols and extensive knowledge of engineering standards, CSX’s dedicated bridge inspector teams conduct a careful evaluation of all the key components of a bridge looking for any signs of unexpected wear, weakness or damage that might indicate fatigue or premature aging of the structure. If any damage is indicated, immediate remedial actions are implemented and the track structure on the bridge is inspected weekly to ensure bridge safety.

News 5 requested a copy of the CSX Quincy Avenue bridge inspection report, we're still waiting for a response.

Meanwhile, Ward 6 Cleveland Councilman Blaine Griffin believes railroad bridge funding and safety is a real issue right now.

“They are just eyesores, when you go throughout Ward 6, throughout the City of Cleveland," Griffin said. “More importantly we need to make sure they’re structurally sound.”

“I’ve always had a concern about all of those over-passes. We need to have more conversations with the railroads and all of these folks that represent interstate commerce to make sure that we’re utilizing these infrastructure dollars. We’d all hate to see a major accident or catastrophe happen," Griffin said.