The Lorain-Carnegie Bridge carries OH Route 10 over the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio. It was the second vehicular high-level span to be completed over the valley.
A push for a third high-level vehicular crossing of the Cuyahoga River came as early as 1916 prior to the completion of the Detroit-Superior Bridge. 1 While bond issues were passed, the advent of World War I halted any development work on a bridge until a City Planning Commission report in 1924 recommended the immediate construction of a viaduct because of chronic traffic congestion. It noted that due to the construction of the Union Terminal complex, that such a viaduct could become a major roadway moving traffic from downtown to Shaker Square.
In 1927, a Citizens Committee was formed with 15 members to make recommendations to the county regarding construction. 1 In November, two bonds were passed towards the construction of the bridge to finance real estate acquisitions and another to finance the construction of the bridge itself.
A twin-level bridge was proposed. The upper level would carry a 60-foot roadway with two seven-foot sidewalks, while the lower level would carry two rapid transit tracks and two truck-only lanes. 1 3
Construction began in 1930. 1 Concrete pilings were used under all of the piers except for the river crossing which relied on traditional timber piles. Footings were drilled down to a depth of 38 feet below river level on average. Approximately 71,000 yards of concrete were poured and 13,000 tons of structural silicon steel were used in the construction project. The silicon steel contained a high copper content and enhanced the structural strength of the steel in anticipation of the lower deck being used. Sandstone railings were installed that required the quarrying of 10,000 tons of rock in Amherst.
Completed at the cost of $4 million, the new Lorain-Carnegie Bridge was dedicated on November 9, 1932. 1 It was designed by Wilbur J. Watson, a consulting engineer who was known for blending art and science into cohesive designs, 3 and by Frank Walker and Harry Weeks, both architects. 1 3
Four ornamental pylons, symbolizing transportation progress, were built at the ends of the bridge. 3 The 40-foot high Art Deco sculptures were designed by Frank Walker of Walker and Weeks and built by Henry Hering of New York. Cutters did all of the straight-line work required, and carvers sculptured the statues and the associated details. The pylons were referred to as the “Guardians of Traffic.”
Improvements on Lorain Avenue were planned in conjunction with the opening of the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge but never implemented because of the construction of the Main Avenue Bridge and the Innerbelt. 3 The only work post-construction was the movement of storefronts away from the roadway near the bridge in anticipation of widening.
In 1976, county engineer Albert Porter proposed tearing down the iconic pylons. 2 When people protested, Porter became heated and retorted with, “Those columns are monstrosities and should be torn down and forgotten. There is nothing particularly historic about any one of them. We’re not running a May Show here.” 2 Eric Johannesen, a preservationist for the Western Reserve Historical Society, submitted an application to get the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge listed on the National Register of Historic Places, namely to prevent the statues from being removed. 3 The application cited that it was Cleveland’s “only example of a monumental sculpture from the 1920s and 1930s.” The bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places later on October 8, a rare feat as the crossing was less than 50 years of age.
The crossing was closed for a $22 million rehabilitation project between October 1980 and 1983. 1 3 Work included repairing and repaving the bridge deck, replacing the sidewalks, cleaning the statues with crushed walnut shells, and replacing the deteriorated sandstone railings with similar-appearing steel-reinforced concrete. Upon reopening, the county renamed the structure after former Clevelander Bob Hope’s father, Harry, who was part of the stoneworking team on the bridge. 3 The renaming received mixed reviews as Harry was part of a team that was involved in the pylon construction. Bob Hope also did not show up for the bridge renaming ceremony, which irked many.
In the early 21st century, the bridge was again rehabilitated at the cost of $20 million. 3 The project entailed resurfacing the roadway and adding bike lanes, replacing deficient steel, and repainting the superstructure. A $4.5 million project that began in May 2012 involved the addition of a 14½-wide shared-use bike and pedestrian path in lieu of two traffic lanes. 4 The project was a compromise between cycling advocates, who wanted a path along the new Innerbelt Bridge, and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), who noted that the path would be too expensive and too close to fast-moving traffic. As an alternative, ODOT pitched a path for the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge to replace the bike lanes.
- State: Ohio
- Route: OH Route 10
- Type: Pratt Deck Truss
- Status: Active - Automobile
- Total Length: 5,865 feet
- Main Span Length: 300 feet
- Deck Width: 74 feet
- Total Height: 93 feet
- Navigational Clearance:
- Watson, Sara Ruth, and John R. Wolfs. “The Four Great Viaducts.”Bridges of Metropolitan Cleveland. By Sara Ruth Watson and John R. Wolfs. N.p.: n.p., 1981. 23-28. Print.
- “Lorain-Carnegie Bridge.” HistoricBridges.org. n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2012. Article.
- Snook, Debbi. “Bridges of Hopes It’s beautiful. It’s monumental. Go ahead, name another bridge that has eight 40-foot-tall bodyguards with wings..” Plain Dealer [Cleveland] 2 Dec. 2002: L1. Print.
- Breckenridge, Tom. “Lorain-Carnegie Bridge to undergo $4.5 million redesign for pedestrians, bicyclists.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland] 28 May 2012. Web. 31 Aug. 2012. Article.