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Willow Avenue Lift Bridge

ODOT Project 8017-17
Cleveland, OH

The skyline from within the Cuyahoga River basin is dominated by large steel bridge structures. “Knife,” “swing,” and “vertical lift” are among the wide variety of moveable bridge designs located along the river, permitting large cargo vessels to deliver bulk materials to riverfront facilities while maintaining the busy-city volume of vehicle and pedestrian surface traffic.
The Great Lakes Construction Co. was awarded an ODOT Project to replace the wire rope lifting cables on the Willow Avenue Vertical Lift Bridge. The bridge conveys principally truck traffic from the West bank of the flats to the salt, sand and stone suppliers over the Old River Channel to Whiskey Island. The 310-ft Lift Span portion of the bridge moves vertically 85.7 feet to allow marine traffic to pass beneath the hoisted structure. Cargill Deicing Technology conveyors load large lake carriers at their dock, and Great Lakes Towing manages significant marine traffic of vessels coming into and exiting their dry-dock and wharf-side repair facilities. Additionally, recreational boaters frequently ply the Old River Channel when visiting or docking at the Old River Yacht Club.
The bridge structure was built in 1965, and the 40 lifting cable assemblies were part of the original equipment. With ten cables located in each of the four corners of the tower structures, the mechanical system allows a smooth lift of 1,700,000 pounds. The cables connect the two 425 ton counterweights to the lift span girders.
Performing moveable bridge rehabilitation projects is nothing new to The Great Lakes Construction Co. Utilizing Great Lakes’ diverse competencies, our bridge specialists worked with our Industrial Division and devised a plan to best complete the project. A full complement of Great Lakes Construction skilled craftspeople - Millwrights, Pile-Drivers, Operators and Laborers worked through brutal “lake-effect” winter weather to jack and pin the counterweights, remove the existing hoisting cables, clean and prepare the machinery sheaves and install the 40 new cables to rejuvenate the hoisting system.
The work to replace the wire rope hoisting cables was performed on the structure during the period from February 03, 2018 through February 24, 2018. During this period, the bridge remained in the CLOSED (DOWN) position, with one of two lanes open on the bridge. Cleveland Barricading System (CBS) was called upon to provide flagging services across the 373-ft bridge deck and approach spans for the truck traffic during all construction activities to minimize wait time for loaded trucks delivering the salt to locations throughout Ohio and the region.
The Project required notification to and coordination with all of the Agencies responsible for the marine traffic system along Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River. Great Lakes worked with the United States Coast Guard, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the Port of Cleveland, the City of Cleveland Bureau of Docks & Bridges, the Lake Carriers’ Association, Cargill Deicing Technology and Ontario Stone Corp. - each a stakeholder impacted by interruption in the regular movement of the bridge lift span.

The Willow Avenue Lift Bridge is owned and operated by the City of Cleveland, and together with ODOT, as the Project Sponsor, both entities were pleased with the successful completion of the rope replacement project. The owners were impressed with the ingenuity and skills of the Great Lakes’ Millwright Division and have demonstrated their confidence by adding scope to the Project by ordering additional motor-brake rehabilitation work. 6 months after their installation, the new ropes will be checked twice for proper tension and lubricated, and the Great Lakes’ crews will have completed a unique and challenging Project that can now be added to the company résumé in the moveable bridge category.