Saturday, October 07, 2006

10.5.6 - Fulton Road Bridge Update

This was published in this past Thursday's Brooklyn Sun News:

Fulton bridge is falling down

Nearby fire station reopens because of span's closure
Thursday, October 05, 2006
By Ken Prendergast
Brooklyn Sun Journal

CLEVELAND _ There's good news and bad news arriving with the closing today of the Fulton Road bridge. The 74-year-old arched concrete span over the Big Creek valley and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will be replaced with a nearly identical bridge during the next 21/2 years.

The bad news, of course, is the bridge's closing, which is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. today and end in the summer of 2009. Detours will either divert traffic away from some businesses or bring too much past others, especially on Pearl or Ridge roads. Downtown-bound commuters likely will face a crush of traffic on detour routes, especially Pearl.

It's hard to avoid that as the detour, said Ward 15 Councilman Kevin Kelley. It's going to be quite an inconvenience for a number of years.

The good news is that the bridge's closing will result in the fire department fully staffing Ladder Co. 42, based at Station 42 at Pearl and Stickney avenues. That will start Friday and continue at least throughout the construction period.

City officials promised to restore the ladder truck with the bridge's closing, since the expected increase in traffic on Pearl would likely cause response times from the next-closest fire station to exceed minimum standards. Station 20, the next closest, is located north of Pearl's bridge over the Big Creek valley.

In April, staffing for Ladder 42 was reduced, or browned out, limiting the truck's availability.

Staffing Ladder Co. 42 while this bridge is under construction will give our firefighters another tool for providing Clevelanders with the quality service they deserve, said Mayor Frank Jackson in a written statement.

Jackson and his staff will discuss the ladder truck and other issues at a public meeting at 6 p.m. today at the Estabrook Recreation Center, 4125 Fulton Road. And, at 6 p.m. Friday, a community celebration will be held at Station 42.

It's absolutely great, Station 42 firefighter Tom Keco said of Ladder 42 becoming fully active. Our response time will revert back to the way it was. They won't have to wait for (Station) 20.

Also impacted will be the zoo, which has its Northern Trek exhibits and overflow parking west of the Fulton bridge and the main part of the zoo east of the bridge.

Implosion of the Fulton bridge in December or January, and the construction of the new bridge thereafter, will have to be done in such a way to allow zoo employees and visitors to travel back and forth between the two parts of the park. The wolf exhibit, which is next to the bridge, will likely have to be moved, said Sue Allen, the zoo's public relations manager.

Zoo officials will post updates about access to the park and changes to exhibits on its Web site, at, she said.

Two pedestrian and two vehicular routes within the zoo will be provided. The zoo's access drive from Fulton also will remain open during the project, said officials at the Ohio Department of Transportation which is administering the $45.8 million bridge replacement. Kokosing Construction Co. crews are doing the construction work.

The goal is for minimal disturbance of the zoo, said ODOT Project Engineer Ray Bencivengo. Over the next two months, work crews will remove asphalt, concrete barriers, fencing and steel plates from the top of the bridge, he said. Below the bridge, crews will work with zoo employees to get things out of the way of the coming implosion.

Anytime you take a bridge down of this magnitude, there's going to be a lot of noise and dust, Kelley said. How that affects the residential neighborhoods I don't know yet.

Although the bridge is city owned, Cleveland couldn't afford to shoulder the entire cost of replacing it. Also, residents were able to convince officials to reject simpler, less expensive designs and instead rebuild the bridge as it was. Federal funding passed through ODOT will provide 80 percent of the project cost, with the remainder split between city, county and state sources, Bencivengo said.

Amazingly, the Fulton Road Bridge website still has not been updated.