Main Avenue Bridge (OH 2)

The Main Avenue Bridge is a cantilever deck truss bridge that carries Ohio Route 2 over the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio.


The first Main Avenue Bridge was a floating bridge that was co-owned by the city of Cleveland and Ohio City. 1 The next iteration, a swing bridge, was completed on July 3, 1869. 5 One of the first iron bridges in the city, it featured a 200-foot main span and was 31-feet wide. It was rebuilt in 1885 with a steam operated draw. In 1915, the bridge was repaired and moved slightly to allow for longer approaches for the larger vessels that were now moving up the Cuyahoga.

By 1943, the swing span was being operated over 9,000 times per year. 5 It was demolished in 1947 when it was declared obsolete due to the completion of the Main Avenue high-level bridge.

Main Ave. Bridge

High Level Bridge

Plans for a Main Avenue high-level viaduct were first formulated in 1930. 5 In November, a $6 million bond issue was passed by voters towards the construction of a bridge. The Great Depression postponed any construction, but with the formation of the Public Works Administration of the Works Progress Administration, a new source of financing was available. 1 5

Ground was broken on May 12, 1938 for a 5,920-foot viaduct. 5 Including ramps, the bridge stretched for 8,000 feet. From the western end, the bridge featured five steel spans 200 feet long, followed by two spans of 240 feet each, and then a span of 320 feet. The east ramp across railroad tracks, consisting of a three four-span plate girders, were each 270.8 feet in length, the largest built in the United States at that time. 1 The concrete piers of the river span were anchored in blue clay 45 feet below the riverbed, and stood 100 feet from the river’s edge to allow for future widening of the channel. 5

On April 25, 1939, a golden rivet was driven that linked the east and west sides of the bridge. 5 The bridge was dedicated later that year on October 6 to more than a thousand people. 1 It was completed at a cost of $7.5 million. The bridge received the an American Institute of Steel Construction Honorable Mention for its design.

The Main Avenue Bridge was opened in conjunction with the Cleveland Memorial Shoreway, portions of which later became Interstate 90. 2

The Main Avenue Bridge was extensively repaired in 1978. 5 On April 13, 1991, the bridge was closed a $65 million rehabilitation project. 1 Construction included rebuilding the deteriorated deck, widening the bridge lanes from 10 feet to 12 feet, the installation of a new lighting system and the replacement or repair of structural steel. The crossing reopened on October 16, 1992.

The bridge received major structural repairs in 2007 3 and in 2012 and 2013. 4

The Main Avenue Bridge was dedicated in honor of former Cleveland Mayor Harold H. Burton in 1986. 1

  • Total Length: 5,920 feet
  • Main Span Length: 320 feet
  1. “Main Avenue Bridge.” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, Western Reserve Historical Society.
  2. “Memorial Shoreway.” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, Western Reserve Historical Society.
  3. Farkas, Karen. “ODOT withheld fears about danger of Main Avenue Bridge collapsing in 2007.” Plain-Dealer [Cleveland], 28 Jun. 2009.
  4. “ODOT to Begin Repair Project on Main Avenue Bridge.” Ohio Department of Transportation, 17 Jul. 2012.
  5. Watson, Sara Ruth, and John R. Wolfs. “The Main Avenue Viaduct (1939).” Bridges of Metropolitan Cleveland, MSL Academic Endeavors, 1981, pp. 28-31.

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