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Reopening of Center Street swing bridge delayed as repairs taking longer than expected

Posted at 11:56 AM, Dec 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-07 11:56:02-05

CLEVELAND — Construction on the Center Street swing bridge has hit a snag and will delay the reopening of the historic structure that provides a vital link between the East and West Bank of the Flats.

The bridge was built in 1901 and construction crews are in the middle of an $8.4 million rehabilitation of the span that includes restoring the driving surface, refurbishing the sidewalks and adding new lighting. Since the project includes federal funding, the Ohio Department of Transportation is overseeing the repairs.

After closing in January of 2022, ODOT hoped to have the bridge reopened after ten months of construction, but steel repairs have taken longer than anticipated on the historic structure.

“Anytime you’re dealing with a historic bridge and on top of that a swing bridge, there’s additional complications that you can’t predict when making repairs,” said ODOT District 12 PIO Brent Kovacs. “The intangibles, such as balancing an off-center bridge, working on a historical structure, things like that are of utmost importance that we have to pay attention to.”

The bridge’s balance point is off to one side, making construction a delicate and slow process. Crews have been forced to work at a pace that’s slower than a rehab project on a more traditional span.

“If we remove a piece of concrete from one side, we have to counterbalance it on the opposite side. If we bring a piece of equipment to one side, we have to counterbalance that piece of equipment,” Kovacs said. “It’s constantly a balancing act and it’s what we have to do to make sure that we preserve this bridge.”

River traffic is being maintained throughout construction as crews will be working on the bridge in the “open” position. ODOT has acknowledged the delay is frustrating for drivers but Kovacs said they can’t be too cautious with the aging structure.

“We’re doing this for your safety, we have to get this bridge right and we want to make sure it’s safe when it does reopen. We can’t rush this process at all,” he said. “We want to make sure we preserve this historical bridge for years to come.”

As for when that will be, it’s still unclear. The project was supposed to be completed by now but instead, the bridge will be closed through the summer of 2023. ODOT hoped to start painting the bridge in the spring and replacing the concrete driving surface to finalize the project.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure we get it open as soon as we can,” Kovacs said.

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