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Main Avenue Bridge

Main Avenue Bridge

The Main Avenue Bridge is a cantilever deck truss bridge that carries OH Route 2 over the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio. The Main Avenue Bridge was dedicated in honor of former Cleveland Mayor Harold H. Burton in 1986.


The first crossing of the Cuyahoga River along Main Avenue 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 Noted as being one of the first iron bridges in the city, it featured a width of 31-feet and a main span of 200-feet. It was rebuilt in 1885 with a steam-operated draw and repaired and moved slightly to allow for longer approaches for the larger vessels along 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 high-level viaduct at Main Avenue were first formulated in 1930, and a $6 million bond issue was passed by voters towards the construction of such a crossing in November. 5 The Great Depression postponed any construction, but with the creation of the Public Works Administration of the Works Progress Administration, a new source of financing became available. 1 5

The ground was broken for a 5,920-foot viaduct on May 12, 1938, and a golden rivet was driven that linked the east and west sides of the bridge on April 25, 1939. 5 The bridge, which cost $7.5 million, was dedicated later that year on October 6 to more than a thousand people. 1 The bridge received an American Institute of Steel Construction Honorable Mention for its design.

The new Main Avenue Bridge, including ramps, stretched for 8,000 feet. It included three 271-foot four-span plate girders across railroad tracks that were the largest in the United States at that time, five 200-foot spans, two 240-foot spans, and a 320-foot span. 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

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

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

The Main Avenue Bridge received major structural repairs in 2007, 3 2012, and 2013. 4



  • State: Ohio
  • Route: OH Route 2
  • Type: Pratt Deck Truss
  • Status: Active - Automobile
  • Total Length: 5,920 feet
  • Main Span Length: 320 feet
  • Spans:


  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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