The Vrooman Road Bridge, a Warren Polygonal pony truss, carries Vrooman Road over the Grand River in Lake County, Ohio.
The original Vrooman Road crossing of the Grand River was constructed in 1879. 1 It was replaced in 1952 with a Warren Polygonal pony truss at a cost of $150,000. 9 The crossing has only been rehabilitated once, in 1980, which included replacing the original timber deck and steel stringers with a new timber deck and an asphalt surface. 1
The work did little alleviate the bridge’s problematic location deep within the Grand River valley. 1 It led to frequent flooding that, over time, damaged the approaches and led to severe scouring to the substructure. The bridge closed two to three times per year for flood events, although a major rain event in mid-2006 led to the closure of Vrooman Road for five months over concerns of the bridge’s structural integrity. It cost $1.5 million to repair the structure. 13
A 2002 inspection report noted the bridge had a general appraisal of four, decreasing to three in 2006. 1
The crossing was closed on October 2, 2014 after an overloaded truck caused damage to steel tension members. 8 Cracks were discovered during a biennial bridge inspection. It was reopened after repairs were completed.
It was closed again in mid-2015 after oversized trucks damaged the bridge, requiring emergency repairs. 3 A temporary low level bridge was constructed over the river for motorists while the repairs were completed. It closed again for three weeks in July 2016 due to oversized trucks that caused the abutment seats to collapse.
Discussions to replace the bridge have been proposed and studied since the construction of the existing crossing in 1952. 1 Upon the completion of a section of State Route 1 (later Interstate 90) in 1960, it was decided that Vrooman Road would provide direct connectivity between the interstate and South Painesville.
The county protested the proposed interchange with State Route 1 and Vrooman Road — as did the state shortly after the plans were approved. 10 The interchange with a county road was the only one of its type between the Pennsylvania state line and Columbus. State Route 1 was originally laid out north of its present location, and the idea was to place an interchange at State Route 307 northeast of Vrooman Road. When the alignment was shifted, the interchange moved to Vrooman Road to provide adequate service to the area. The nearest interchanges on either side were 13 miles apart.
The state estimated that it would cost $7 million to rebuild Vrooman Road with a new roadbed and a higher-level crossing over the Grand River. 10
A 1963 report called for a two-lane, limited-access roadway to be built from Interstate 90 to the North-South Freeway (State Route 2). 1 11 Specifically, the proposal called for the bridge to be raised 12 feet to take it out of the flood plain and for an underpass for Vrooman Road motorists at State Route 84. 9 The $649,000 project did not receive funding.
Another proposal in 1968 called for a four-lane limited-access highway to be built from State Route 2 to State Route 86 and the realignment of Vrooman Road to the east via a low-level bridge crossing. 1 It also included a highway interchange at State Route 84 between Madison Avenue and Lane Road. A lack of funding also killed the proposal.
The project was revived early 1980’s by the Lake County Engineer’s Office. 1 A report, issued in 1984, led to the initiation of planning level studies, and engineering and environmental studies in the early 1990’s. The preferred alternative called for an 1,700-foot, 80-foot high two-lane crossing with a northern connection at Lane Road and a southern connection at Vrooman Road near the top of the southern escarpment, and a partially realigned and widened two-lane roadway towards Interstate 90. 12 It would cost $8 million. The discovery of Native American burial sites within the project limits halted the project until additional archaeological investigations were conducted. 1
The Vrooman Road Bridge was identified as structurally deficient in 2002. 1 As a result, another planning study was initiated in 2003 to identify deficiencies along Vrooman Road between State Route 84 and Interstate 90. The Vrooman Road Planning Study, released by Transystems in 2005 and revised by Baker in 2008, led to the development of a preferred alternative. The preferred alignment was nearly identical to the 1984 proposal.
The new bridge and roadway improvements, estimated to cost between $28 million and $32 million, would be funded by the NOACA State Transportation Improvement Program and the County Engineers Association of Ohio. 2
On February 19, 2015, the county approved of a $27 million contract with the Ruhlin Company. 5 Construction began in March but was suspended in June as the county awaited for the necessary environmental permits to proceed in an area involving wetlands and the Grand, a Wild and Scenic River. 4 Ruhlin sued the county for breach of contract and negligence, alleging the county did not heed its warnings to apply for the necessary permits at least one year prior to the construction start date. 4
The case was settled shortly before it was due to go to trial in late December 2016. 7 The county allowed Ruhlin to leave their contract and shifted responsibility for the bridge and roadway improvement project to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). The project is currently out for rebid through the standard ODOT procurement process.
Once the new Vrooman Road Bridge is complete, the existing crossing’s superstructure and center pier will be removed. 6 A pedestrian bridge will be built using the existing abutments to connect Masons Landing Metro Park that sprawl on both sides of the Grand River.