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Kokosing Builds New Fulton Road Bridge Over Zoo

By: Linda J. Hutchinson

Kokosing Builds New Fulton Road Bridge Over Zoo

Kokosing Builds New Fulton Road Bridge Over Zoo

Imploding the Fulton Road Bridge, a highly visible landmark in Cleveland, Ohio, which spans the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo, John Nagy Boulevard, the Norfolk Southern and CSX railroad lines, and Big Creek Reservation, took two attempts.

Demolition was originally planned for April 28, but a faulty detonation cord caused only two arch spans to be imploded. The remaining four spans were detonated on May 1, after installing a new detonation cord.

A 1,000 ft. (304.8 m) perimeter was set around the area during detonation. The media and public were invited to view the spectacle from the Brookside Reservation, adjacent to the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo.

The Fulton Road Bridge also crosses directly over the Brookside Park Bridge, a historic concrete arch bridge crossing Big Creek, which was protected during the implosion and demolition, and must be protected during replacement. Portions of the bridge deck were removed and a temporary structure was constructed above the Brookside Park Bridge to protect it in place.

“The most difficult aspect of the demolition was trying to coordinate the implosion with local police forces, highway patrol, EMS, fire, the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo, railroads, residents, city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and local media,” said Ray Bencivengo, Ohio Department of Transportation area engineer who was charged with overseeing the project. “The coordination effort was tremendous.”

The Fulton Road Bridge was closed Oct. 5, 2006, and is planned for completion and re-opening in November 2009.


Rehabilitation of the nearly 75-year-old bridge was first planned in the 1980s. After many delays, the bridge deteriorated to a point where that was not viable economically or physically. In the mid-1990s it was decided to replace the bridge. Consulting firm Michael Baker Jr. was hired in 2002 to design the new structure.

The original bridge was constructed in 1932 at a cost of $1.1 million. It was 1,560 ft. (475 m) long, 76 ft. (23 m) wide, and rose 110 ft. (33.5 m) above Big Creek Valley. The cantilevered sidewalk, rails and lighting portions were removed during the 1980s emergency repairs, leaving it only 65 ft. (19.8 m) wide.

The new bridge will be 1,583 ft. (482 m) long, 81 ft. (24.6 m) wide, and will stand 110 ft. above the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo and Big Creek Reservation. It will carry four lanes of traffic, two 5-ft. wide (1.5 m) bike lanes, and two 10-ft. (3 m) wide sidewalks. There will be six main arch spans of 210 ft. (64 m) each, with a similar look as the original arch spans. The cost is expected to be approximately $46 million.

Of the bid amount, approximately $37 million comes from federal funds, $3.5 million from Ohio Public Works, and $5.3 million is county and city responsibility.

Unlike the original structure, the new arches will be precise and assembled in three segments each, up to 67 ft. (20 m) long and weighing approximately 67 tons (60 t) each. Construction uses pre-cast, segmental arches which are erected into temporary tower supports and then held together by post-tensioned concrete.

The pre-cast arch segments are made in West Virginia by Carr Concrete Corp and shipped in via truck, “One of the biggest challenges is actually getting these pre-cast arch segments fabricated and delivered to the site. This is a pretty high number of super-loads for one specific project,” said Greg Kronstain, ODOT District 12 Field Engineer. “It is certainly unique construction.”

Approximately 18,345 cu. yd. (14,000 cu m) of cast-in-place concrete is being used, in addition to the pre-cast concrete arches and I-beams.

Besides the sidewalks and bike paths, additional features will include high and low level lighting, an overlook near the center of the bridge and an all purpose trail beneath the bridge, to allow for access into the Cleveland MetroParks Big Creek Reservation.

“This is one of the few structures that may be more visible by traffic beneath the bridge than those traveling on it,” said Bencivengo. The zoo’s attendance exceeds one million visitors a year with primary access points crossing under the bridge. “It was important for all of the project’s stakeholders to work together to maintain the look and feel of the old bridge.”

Brendan Finn of the Cuyahoga County Engineer’s Office, who will maintain the structure post-construction, said “the pre-cast concrete deck arch structure type was selected to preserve the architectural significance of the community while minimizing construction duration and impacts to the property below,” according to an ODOT press release. “The piers for the replacement structure’s arch spans are located in the same footprint as the original bridge piers,” Finn said. “The open spandrel deck arch imitates the appearance of the old bridge but fewer spandrel columns will provide a lighter appearance.”

Cuyahoga County has extensive experience in administering and managing large-scale Local Public Agency (LPA) federal-aid projects. However, due to the scope and complexity of this project, the county negotiated ODOT’s cooperation to administer the construction for this unusual bridge project.

Post implosion, prime contractor Kokosing Construction Company of Fredericktown, Ohio, has removed more than 25,000 tons (22,680 t) of debris and has recently begun setting pre-fabricated concrete arches, a method much different than the original cast-in-place method used on the former bridge.

“ODOT is providing construction management,” said ODOT Transportation Engineer Mike Dzurnak. “Work is progressing. Crews are in the process of erecting pre-cast arch segments for the northern two bridge spans. Workers are also inside the zoo building pads.”

Big Creek has been cleared of debris in accordance with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permit, which dictates a specific time period to remove material that fell into it.

Construction crews are currently working to set the pre-cast arch segments and are expected to continue into the fall. “Right now, our primary focus is getting the arches set and doing the post-tensioning work,” said Kronstain.

Concrete and steel from the bridge demolition is being recycled.

For more information, call 216/584-2005. CEG