The George V. Voinovich Bridges carries Interstate 90 over the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio.
Innerbelt Freeway and Bridge
The US Route 42 Innerbelt Freeway 20 was envisioned in 1940 as a way to divert through traffic around a congested downtown Cleveland, and to connect the Lake Erie-bordering Cleveland Memorial Shoreway with the Willow Freeway, and to link to a Medina Freeway that would lead to the Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport. 18 Planning for the highway began in 1944 for a freeway between East 30th Street to Abbey Avenue and West 14th Street in the Tremont neighborhood. Approval to build the Innerbelt Freeway was granted in 1949.
Right-of-way purchases for the 3¼-mile project totaled $22.5 million for 1,250 parcels of land, and it was estimated that land and construction costs would top $75 million. 18 21 Financing for the project was 90% funded from the federal government, with 5% coming from the state and another 5% coming from the city. The Superior Avenue to Shoreway segment, planned for construction in 1956, was projected to cost $14 million, 20 while the East 30th Street to Superior Avenue section was set for a 1957 start and cost $12 million.
Work on the centerpiece of the Innerbelt Freeway project, an eight-lane bridge over the Cuyahoga River south of the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge, began on December 12, 1954. 18 The new Innerbelt Bridge was completed at the cost of $26 million and opened to traffic on August 18, 1959. 2 At the time of its opening, it was the widest bridge in the state.
The next segment of the Innerbelt Freeway to open was on December 17, 1959, when the Shoreway to Chester Avenue segment opened. 21 Construction on the central segment, connecting Chester Avenue to the Innerbelt Bridge and to the Willow Freeway, began in late 1959 and opened on December 5, 1961. 18 The Innerbelt Freeway, vital to the completion of Interstates 71, 77, and 90 in Ohio, was completed at the cost of $75 million and was fully opened on August 1, 1962. 21
Between July 1983 and June 1985, a 1,500-foot acceleration lane for the West 14th Street ramp on the Innerbelt Bridge was constructed by the Horvitz Company at the cost of $6.1 million. 22 The company was also the successful bidder to install a new latex concrete deck overlay by July 1984 at the cost of $2.4 million.
After a computerized inspection of the steel trusses in November 2008, the outer lanes were closed to reduce the weight on impacted steel members and all commercial truck traffic was prohibited from the Innerbelt Bridge. 2 3-D imaging technology, acquired by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to examine beam stresses, convicted the state to scrap a plan to spend $240 million to rehabilitate the superstructure, which would have extended the lifespan of the crossing for another 30 years. Various steel elements were being placed under extreme stress and could no longer support a full load of traffic. If one element of the superstructure failed, the entire bridge could collapse due to its fracture-critical design. Additionally, the West 14th Street acceleration lane that was added 23 years prior was adding too much stress to the bridge. 17
To facilitate $10 million in steel repairs that required installing steel plates to reinforce deficient steel members and removing the West 14th Street acceleration lane, two lanes in each direction were closed between September 1 and November 1, 2009. 2 17 ODOT reopened all lanes and permitted trucks to use the westbound Innerbelt Bridge on November 25. 3 4 By mid-2010, trucks were allowed to use the eastbound lanes.
George V. Voinovich Bridges
With the rehabilitation of the existing Innerbelt Bridge scrapped due to structural deterioration, ODOT announced plans in March 2009 to construct a new westbound Innerbelt Bridge, which would then be followed up with a parallel eastbound crossing. 3 The new westbound bridge would be financed with $85 million federal transportation stimulus funds via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and $200 million in federal funds, 17 and expected to cost $287.4 million. 14
A Record of Decision was issued in September 2009 6 8 favor of a bridge proposal that included 35 new mainline, ramp, and overhead bridges, 18 mainline and ramp deck replacements, a westbound Innerbelt Bridge with a total length of 3,371 feet and a main span length of 800 feet, an eastbound Innerbelt Bridge with a total length of 3,053 feet and a main span length of 800 feet, 7 along with 3.24 miles of Innerbelt Freeway reconstruction. 5 6 The river crossings would utilize a steel delta frame design. 19
In September 2010, the project’s construction contract was awarded to Walsh Construction and designer HNTB Ohio Inc. for $287.4 million. 15 The project is being performed using the design-build process, where the design and construction are combined in a single contract, shaving off nearly a year in the design and construction timeline. 5 Work on the westbound Innerbelt Bridge began on March 30, 2011, 14 with a groundbreaking ceremony held on May 2. 15
The westbound Innerbelt Bridge was dedicated to George Voinovich during the ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 8 23 and opened to Ontario Street ramp traffic on November 9, 2013, 24 and to Interstate 90 westbound traffic on November 17. 25 It opened to eastbound Interstate 90 traffic, which used the westbound bridge until the completion of the eastbound bridge, on November 23. 26
Construction of the eastbound Voinovich Bridge began after the Innerbelt Bridge was dismantled on November 3, 2014. 27 It opened in a limited capacity on September 24, 2016 28 and was fully completed by October 24. 29
- State: Ohio
- Route: Interstate 90
- Type: Delta Girder
- Status: Active - Automobile
- Total Length: 4,223 feet (1959); 4,279-4,399 feet (2013)
- Main Span Length: 116 feet (1959); 800 feet (2013)
- Navigational Clearance:
- “Central Viaduct.” The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. N.p.: Case Western Reserve University, n.d. Web. 23 July 2012. Article.
- Miller, Deborah. “3-D imaging set off lane closures, Inner Belt Bridge rehab.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland], 27 Aug. 2009. 23 July 2012. Article.
- “Innerbelt Bridge Lanes/Ramps Reopened Today.” Ohio Department of Transportation, 25 Nov. 2009. 23 July 2012. Article.
- “Inner Belt Bridge lanes to reopen, but not to trucks going east.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland], 11 Aug. 2009. 23 July 2012. Article.
- “Cleveland’s Innerbelt Bridge.” Ohio Department of Transportation, n.d. 23 July 2012. Article.
- Bauer, Patrick A. “Record of Decision.” Letter to Jolene M. Molitoris. 18 Sept. 2009. Ohio Department of Transportation. Web. 23 July 2012. Letter.
- Record of Decision, Section 4(f) Approval, and Interchange Justification Study Approval. Research rept. N.p.: n.p., 2009. Ohio Department of Transportation. Web. 23 July 2012. Report.
- “ODOT Receives Federal Approval to Proceed with Innerbelt Project.” Ohio Department of Transportation, n.d. 18 Sept. 2009. Article.
- Farkas, Karen. ”Construction of new Inner Belt Bridge likely will cause traffic tie-ups for many years.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland], 1 Dec. 2009. 23 July 2012. Article.
- Breckenridge, Tom. “Cleveland’s business, traffic would suffer if 2nd Inner Belt Bridge is delayed a decade, officials say.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland], 17 Jan. 2012. 23 July 2012. Article.
- Breckenridge, Tom. “Funding for second Inner Belt Bridge could take a back seat to statewide projects.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland], 29 Jan. 2012. 23 July 2012. Article.
- Amigo, Elisa. “Innerbelt Bridge Project Moved up to 2016.” FOX-8 [Cleveland], 6 June 2012. 23 July 2012. Article.
- Breckenridge, Tom. “Cleveland’s 2nd Inner Belt Bridge could be built 7 years earlier than expected.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland], 6 June 2012. 23 July 2012. Article.
- Breckenridge, Tom. “Inner Belt Bridge construction begins as massive supports are hammered into bedrock.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland], 30 Mar. 2011. 23 July 2012. Article.
- “Innerbelt Bridge Ceremonial Groundbreaking Held Today.” Ohio Department of Transportation, n.d. 2 My 2011. Article.
- McCarty, James F. “Cleveland’s new Inner Belt Bridge will honor outgoing U.S. Senator George Voinovich.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland], 18 Dec. 2010. 23 July 2012. Article.
- “Farkas, Karen. “New Inner Belt Bridge in Cleveland will be built year earlier than expected; ODOT picks construction and design team.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland], 10 Sept. 2010. 23 July 2012. Article.
- “Innerbelt Freeway.” The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. N.p.: Case Western Reserve University, 26 June 1997. Web. 23 July 2012. Article.
- “Baker to Design New Cleveland Innerbelt Bridge.” Michael Baker Construction, 21 June 2011. Web. 23 June 2012. Article.
- “Ohio Unveils 279-Million Highway Program.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland] 3 Dec. 1954, 19. Print.
- Boyer, Dwight. “$25,000,000 a mile!” Plain Dealer [Cleveland] 21 July 1957, 15-17. Print.
- “Road, bridge work worth $10.3 million includes I-90 bridge.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland] 8 July 1983, 71. Print.
- Grant, Alison. “Inner Belt Bridge Brings Crowd of Onlookers with Cameras, Babies in Strollers.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland], 8 Nov. 2013.
- Volante, Monica. “Innerbelt Bridge Open in Both Directions.” WJW-TV [Cleveland], 9 Nov. 2013.
- “Attention Motorists: I-90 west is open and as of 8a this morning, westbound traffic is on the NEW #Innerbelt….” Ohio Department of Transportation, 17 Nov. 2013.
- “Interstate 90 Now OPEN: All Traffic on NEW Innerbelt Bridge!” Ohio Department of Transportation, 23 Nov. 2013.
- Fong, Marvin. “Second Inner Belt bridge work continues in Cleveland.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland], 3 Nov. 2014.
- “Those fireworks in the background are probably for the @Indians, however it could also be to let you know the EB bridge is open to traffic!” Ohio Department of Transportation, 24 Sept. 2016.
- Christ, Ginger. “Inner Belt Bridge is completely open today.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland], 24 Oct. 2016.