Residents fundraise to beautify Lake Avenue bridge, their gateway to Edgewater Park

CLEVELAND - The Lake Avenue Bridge is supposed to be the gateway to Edgewater Park for residents in one Cleveland neighborhood.

But crumbling concrete and rusted beams show the once-ornate bridge has fallen into disrepair, pushing residents to try and take matters into their own hands.

Julia Van Wagenen started a crowd-funding campaign through the website IOBY, which stands for In Our BackYard.

So far, it’s raised upwards of $1,600 — money that Van Wagenen hopes will be used to clean up around the bridge and create artwork within the underpass as soon as this summer.

“We are hopeful that with enough residents showing that they care about this space, it’s hopefully going to be the tipping point to get things accomplished that probably should’ve been done a long time ago,” Van Wagenen said.

However, the bridge is owned by Norfolk Southern, which means the railroad company has to give permission before anything can be done at all.

Councilman Matt Zone said he is working with the residents and Norfolk Southern to get approval for the project. Zone also said he will match any funds that are raised.

The cast iron bridge was built in 1912 and is steeped in history. It was created during Cleveland’s great “city beautiful movement” to act as an entrance to Edgewater Park.

“This is a remnant of that very grand time in Cleveland’s history, and I’d like to see it restored,” resident Nikki Hudson said. “And now that we’re bringing Edgewater Park back, I think we should finish it by bringing the bridge back to its original grandeur.”

A Norfolk Southern spokesperson sent News 5 the following: 

Norfolk Southern has a process in place to work with local communities on railroad bridge beautification projects. In these cases, it is the responsibility of the community to pay the costs associated with the beautification.
 
The project leader of the Lake Avenue bridge beautification proposal has contacted Norfolk Southern about the group’s interest in a beautification project. Norfolk Southern has provided her with the company’s bridge beautification agreement, which spells out requirements to get the railroad’s approval.
 
At this point, there have been no follow-up meetings or discussions with this group about whether they can meet the requirements. It includes having liability insurance and following specific environmental and safety standards. So it’s premature to talk about a timeline, when there’s been no discussion about the agreement terms. It’s up to the group to take the initiative.
 
Norfolk Southern as of today has had no discussions with the city regarding this group’s interest in a beautification project.
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