The Veterans Glass City Skyway carries Interstate 280 over the Maumee River. The cable-stayed suspension bridge was completed in 2007 and was the Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) biggest single construction project in history.
Planning for a new crossing to replace the Craig Memorial Bridge that carried Interstate 280 over the Maumee River began in 1988 when a Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments report noted that the existing drawbridge crossing needed to be replaced or bypassed. 3 12 The existing double-leaf bascule drawbridge was being opened on average 900 times a year for ship traffic. 13 Federal funds for the preliminary planning of a new bridge came through in 1991, but it was not until 1998 that ODOT’s Transportation Review Advisory Council allocated $200 million in state and federal funds toward the project. 3 12
ODOT recommended that a bridge be built alongside existing Interstate 280. 3 During a series of public meetings, ODOT project planners and HNTB/Parsons Brinckerhoff 12 showcased potential designs for the new bridge, including a box-girder, truss, suspension, and cable-stayed designs. A tunnel option had been eliminated due to its very high construction and maintenance costs. 4 The box-girder and truss alternatives were dismissed as public opinion favored the distinctive cable-stayed design which had been designed by FIGG of Tallahassee, Florida. 12 Most attendees preferred a single, center pylon with stays radiating down to the deck, glass panels inlaid in the center tower with internal lighting, and stainless steel sheathing on the cables; the public also voiced support for a divided bike path and new park space alongside the bridge. 3
Naming the bridge was fairly easy, as most opted for either Veterans’ Memorial Bridge and Glass City Skyway during a survey in 2001. 3 4 The decision, which rested with the state, involved a merger of two popular options which became the Veterans Glass City Skyway.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the Skyway was held on May 11, 2001, 1 and bids for its construction were opened on January 15, 2002.12 The $220 million contract with Fru-Con Construction of Ballwin, Missouri (now Bilfinger Berger Civil Inc.) was awarded in March, with work expected to be complete by October 26, 2006. 1
Fru-Con began drilling foundation shafts for the new bridge piers by June and started work on a 32-foot-deep cofferdam in the Maumee River for the 403¼-foot tall center pylon. 1 Bridge components, including 3,008 deck segments and 42 85-ton delta frames, were fabricated of reinforced concrete at a yard on Front Street over a two-year timeframe. 6 The first delta frame, cast on August 29, 2002, comprised of an epoxy-covered steel reinforcing frame. The frame took 90 minutes to fill and a month to cure. The components were lifted into place via two Italian gantry-truss cranes.
By July 2003, with the Skyway was 45% complete, assembly of the East Toledo approach viaduct had begun. The project was 405 days ahead of schedule and was so far ahead that Fru-Con and ODOT announced an agreement to complete work by Labor Day of 2005.
On February 16, 2004, one of two gantry truss cranes that were used to assemble the spans peeled away from its moorings and crashed 60 feet to the ground. 1 2 4 Four four ironworkers were killed and four others were injured. It was found that shortcuts were undertaken in anchoring the crane’s rear legs when it was repositioned. To resume construction, Fru-Con removed the self-contained repositioning system on the remaining truss crane and sourced two other cranes for redundancy. 1
On October 23, a positioning leg fell from a truss crane as it was being moved into place. 1 The incident, which injured no workers, was blamed on a miswired control switch. Work on the bridge was stopped for eight months while the contractor revised its construction plan and procured new equipment.
A concrete quality problem was discovered in the pylon’s construction shortly after that required Fru-Con to remove and replace 184 cubic yards of concrete. 1 It had no effect on the project’s schedule. ODOT also discovered that the plastic coating on many stay-cable strands cracked that comprised their longevity but not their strength which led to the replacement of most coatings.
Another construction incident occurred on April 19, 2006, when a work platform attached to the bridge’s side detached and fell 82 feet to the ground. 1 2 4 A carpenter who was working on the platform was killed and others were injured. Fru-Con was fined $405,000 by OSHA for violations associated with the collapse, and the contractor paid out $11.25 million in settlements with the affected families. 1 2
The last of the concrete segments for the new bridge was poured shortly after 9:15 AM on April 1, 2005. 6 A small ceremony was held on October 17 after the main pylon was “topped off” which involved lifting a 13½-foot-tall inverted concrete “V” 400-feet by crane to the top. 9 Another milestone was achieved on July 13, 2006, when the first stainless steel sheathing for the stay cables was installed. 7 The sheathing, which took 15 minutes to install, was the first step in constructing 20 sets of stable cables. The threading of 119 strands of cables for the sheathing was completed the following day.
Interstate 280 was closed between the Greenbelt Parkway and Summit Street between October 18, 2005, and November 2006 while the North Toledo approach viaduct was constructed over the existing highway. 1 9 The interstate was not scheduled to be closed but earlier incidents with the cranes led the plans to be modified. Additionally, the construction delays were so great that ODOT agreed to waive a $20,000-per-day completion penalty until March 2, 2007. The state had been docking Fru-Con $10,000 per day for the continued closing of Interstate 280 since May 28, 2006, a penalty that exceeded $1.7 million by the time the freeway reopened.
The final two precast bridge segments were installed on December 20, and the final concrete pour to join the main span over the Maumee with the North Toledo viaduct approach was conducted on February 16, 2007. 1 10 12
A dedication ceremony was held at 10:30 AM on June 23, 2007, which was followed by a four-mile race and walk at noon, and a parade in automobiles led by veterans’ groups along the northbound lanes at 12:30 PM. 4 5 Two of the three lanes of the new bridge opened to automobile traffic on Sunday. The other lane of traffic opened later in the year after defective stay-cable strands were replaced.
A memorial for the five workers who died during the erection of the Skyway, which included the fabrication of a kinetic sculpture atop four pillars with two 24 feet arms that spin in the wind, was built in Tribute Park in October 2010. 2
The Skyway project was completed with 2.2 million man-hours 10 at the cost of $237 million and involved a number of firsts and records. 4 It included the world’s thickest stay cables at 70% over what was previously used in the United States, 12 the first use of stainless steel cable sheathing and the first pylon with 176 internally lit, inlaid glass panels that featured 13,824 light-emitting diodes in 384 fixtures. 1 11 12 The lights were expected to last 22 years before needing replacement, and the stay cables were expected to have a lifespan of 100 years. 8
The innovative cable cradle system, which allowed each strand to act independently and be replaced individually, was honored with the Pankow Award from the Civil Engineering Forum for Innovation and the NOVA Award from the Construction Innovation Forum. 11
- State: Ohio
- Route: Interstate 280
- Type: Cable-Stay Suspension
- Status: Active - Automobile
- Total Length: 8,800 feet
- Main Span Length: 1,225 feet
- Total Height: 403.25 feet
- Navigational Clearance:
- Patch, David. “ODOT’s largest construction project ever produces Toledo’s ‘signature bridge’.” Toledo Blade 17 June 2007: n.p. Web. 6 Sept. 2013.
- Patch, David. “Skyway workers to be remembered.” Toledo Blade 4 Oct. 2010: n.p. Web. 6 Sept. 2013.
- Patch, David. “Public participation played an important role in the Skyway’s conception, design, development.” Toledo Blade 17 June 2007: n.p. Web. 6 Sept. 2013.
- Patch, David. “Toledo’s new Glass City Skyway hailed as ‘civic cathedral’ in sky: Dedication precedes opening of Toledo’s bridge to future.” Toledo Blade 24 June 2007: n.p. Web. 7 Sept. 2013.
- Patch, David. “Glass City Skyway set to bridge Toledo: Pedestrians have $237M signature span to themselves today.” Toledo Blade 23 June 2007: n.p. Web. 9 Sept. 2013.
- Murphy, Steve. “Bridge passes construction milestone.” Toledo Blade 2 Apr. 2005: n.p. Web. 9 Sept. 2013.
- Patch, David. “Landmark bridge takes a major step: Workers hoist 1st sheath that will hold stay cables.” Toledo Blade 14 July 2006: n.p. Web. 9 Sept. 2013.
- Patch, David. “ODOT officials say it should be several decades before the new bridge requires significant work.” Toledo Blade 17 June 2007: n.p. Web. 9 Sept. 2013.
- Patch, David. “Crowning of Skyway signals start of big detour.” Toledo Blade 18 Oct. 2005: n.p. Web. 9 Sept. 2013.
- Patch, David. “Glass City Skyway reaches across river: Final pair of segments are lowered into position.” Toledo Blade 21 Dec. 2006: n.p. Web. 9 Sept. 2013.
- Meyer, Daniel, and Denney Pate. “I-280 Veterans’ Glass City Skyway.” Structure Oct. 2009: n. pag. STRUCTUREmag. Web. 9 Sept. 2013.
- Gramza, Michael, and Jeff Walters. “Veterans’ Glass City Skyway.” ASPIRE Summer 2007: 30-34. Print.
- Weber, Laren. “Beneath the beams, abutments, and concrete, Toledo’s Maumee crossings have a story to tell.” Toledo Blade 17 June 2007: n.p. Web. 6 Sept. 2013.