The George V. Voinovich Bridge replaces the old Innerbelt Bridge and is the third-generation river crossing at this location. It is a vital link into downtown Cleveland, spanning the Cuyahoga River on Interstate 90. Serving 140,000 motorists each day, it provides access to jobs, sports complexes, restaurants and more.
ODOT is in the midst of replacing the 1959 “Pratt Deck Truss” bridge with two, nearly identical spans – the first designed to carry westbound traffic, the second to carry eastbound traffic.
Replacement of the bridge is vital to the success of moving people in and out of downtown Cleveland now and in the future. It will enhance capacity, bolster our economy and ensure the safety of motorists. The first of the pair is now open and temporarily carrying traffic in both directions until completion of the second new bridge.
In October 2008, ODOT engineers restricted traffic on the now-closed 1959 truss bridge after inspections revealed that a number of steel members were aging faster than expected. After detailed analysis and subsequent repairs, ODOT reopened all lanes and ramps on the old truss bridge in November 2009.
In the meantime, during the spring of 2009, ODOT announced plans to construct a new westbound bridge - the first of a pair to replace the aging structure - utilizing stimulus funds made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Building a New Westbound Bridge (The First of Two NEW Bridges):
A ceremonial groundbreaking for the first new bridge was held in May 2011 and the bridge was opened in its entirety in November 2013. More than just a bridge, the westbound bridge project was the largest in ODOT’s history and employed as many as 500 people. The project earned national attention as one of the top 10 bridges in the nation and was featured on the cover of “Roads & Bridges” magazine in 2012. The $293 million project also received the “Environmental Excellence Award” from FHWA for its leadership and sustainability efforts.
Building a New Eastbound Bridge (The Second of Two NEW Bridges):
The second project demolished the 1959 truss bridge and constructs a second structure in its place. After months of mechanical demolition, the remaining steel skeleton of the 1959 Innerbelt Bridge was demolished using explosives on July 12, 2014. Construction of the second bridge began immediately after.
The second bridge will run parallel to, and look nearly identical to, the eastbound structure. In the fall of 2013, the project was awarded to TGR and designer URS Corporation for a bid amount of $273 million. The project is expected to be complete during the fall of 2016, at which time eastbound traffic will be shifted onto the second new bridge.
Building a Better Cleveland – One Bridge at a Time:
The combined replacement projects total well over half a BILLION dollars. When complete, each new bridge will carry five lanes of traffic when complete – one more than the 1959-era bridge. This will improve mobility providing better access to jobs, entertainment, commerce and more.
The bridges’ design is intended to mimic the curves of other bridges in the river valley, utilizing steel – an important part of Cleveland’s industrial history – while including modern touches like color-changing LED lighting systems. Areas around each new bridge will be enhanced with public overlooks, greenspaces, enhanced biking and walking facilities, additional parking, public art, community gardens and more.
ODOT undertook an extensive public involvement process during the enhancement process and hopes to capture the unique characteristics of the communities the new bridges touch.
Construction of each new bridge is performed using the unique “Best Value” Design Build Process – where the design and construction are combined in a single contract. This contracting method allows ODOT to select and award projects to a design-build team based on several factors including project cost, project delivery timing and impact to the traveling public. The “best-value” procurement process ensures the greatest return on taxpayer investment while still maintaining cost controls and high quality standards.
Maintaining Traffic During Construction:
I-90 remains OPEN during construction, however lanes are restricted. While all I-90 traffic is currently traveling over the first new bridge – the community has a primary alternate route available to avoid the active construction zones. Motorists are advised to “Opt for the Alternate” via I-490 and I-77 when an extra lane has been added in each direction.
Commuters can also plan to travel earlier or later to avoid peak periods of congestion. Using alternate forms of transportation and public transit are also good options!
Replacement of the 1959 Innerbelt Bridge is the first step in reconstructing the entire Innerbelt Corridor through downtown Cleveland. The multi-billion dollar “Innerbelt Plan” includes such safety improvements as flattening the sharp Innerbelt Curve and other reconstructions.
This aerial photo dated Sept 24, 2013 shows the 1959 truss bridge on the right.
The new westbound George V. Voinovich Bridge is on the left.