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Frustrated neighbors push for repairs to bridge in Detroit Shoreway neighborhood

Claim railroad bridge is "crumbling" and unsafe
Posted at 5:54 PM, Jun 15, 2021

CLEVELAND — Frustrated by what they call a lack of action by Norfolk Southern, some living in Cleveland's Detroit Shoreway neighborhood have taken their frustrations over what they call a "crumbling" bridge public.

The group Friends of Lake Avenue Bridge hung banners from the 109-year-old railroad bridge Friday, alerting people to the danger of falling debris and asking Norfolk Southern, which maintains the bridge, to "keep us safe."

"It's been deteriorating like this for years," said Nikki Hudson, a member of the group.

Hudson has a collection of pieces of concrete she said fell off the bridge.

"These would really, really hurt someone," she said as she showed off some of the chunks of concrete.

The busy railroad bridge spans a busy section of Lake Avenue between popular Edgewater Park and the growing Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.

"We have a lot of pedestrians and bicyclists who pass beneath this bridge every day," said Hudson.

She said her group has worked for three years to try and get the railroad to fix the bridge.

From the street, chunks of concrete appear missing from the bridge, and pieces of metal appear to be barely hanging on over the sidewalk.

Hudson said so far, their efforts have been largely unsuccessful.

So last Friday, the group hung the banners hoping to bring awareness to the issue and push the railroad to act.

Another view of the signs hanging from the bridge.

"I feel like they don't care that the bridge looks the way that it does and that it makes an unsafe walking environment for people," said Hudson.

In a statement, a Norfolk Southern spokesperson said the company's engineering team will examine the bridge and remove any loose material that could fall.

"Our team will continue to monitor and inspect the bridge regularly to ensure it remains safe for the public and rail operations," wrote Rachel McDonnell Bradshaw, Manager of Media Relations. "In many cases, the deterioration of material is cosmetic only and does not affect the structural capacity or safety of the bridge."

But Hudson said she's not satisfied and will keep pushing until the company repairs the busy bridge.

"It's their property," said Hudson. "They own it. It is their responsibility just like any other property owner in the city of Cleveland to maintain the property."

The city is planning a $3.6 million rehabilitation of Lake Avenue, which includes changes aimed at improving safety for pedestrians and bike riders along the stretch. Any repairs to the bridge, however, would be the responsibility of the railroad.