Cleveland’s Innerbelt Bridge Demo Makes Solid Progress

Sat August 16, 2014 - Midwest Edition
Irwin Rapoport

The new bridge, consisting of one span in each direction, is a major ODOT project to help people access and exit Cleveland’s downtown in a more efficient manner.
The new bridge, consisting of one span in each direction, is a major ODOT project to help people access and exit Cleveland’s downtown in a more efficient manner.
The new bridge, consisting of one span in each direction, is a major ODOT project to help people access and exit Cleveland’s downtown in a more efficient manner. The demolition of the bridge, which spans the Cuyahoga River, is critical for the rebuilding of a new bridge on the same site — The George V. Voinovich Bridge. The demolition of the Cleveland’s Innerbelt Bridge, which was built in 1959, continued on July 12 with a controlled explosive demolition of its steel skeleton. A 1,000-ft. (305 m) perimeter was established for the blast zone and many local roadways including I-90, the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge, Abbey Avenue and others, were closed during the event. Using a combination of traditional demolition techniques and controlled (explosive) demolition, five of the nine steel spans of the bridge were dropped.


The demolition of the Cleveland’s Innerbelt Bridge continued on July 12 with a controlled explosive demolition of its steel skeleton. The demolition of the bridge, which spans the Cuyahoga River, is critical for the rebuilding of a new bridge on the same site — The George V. Voinovich Bridge.

The Innerbelt Bridge, built in 1959, is being demolished on behalf of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Trumbull-Great Lakes-Ruhlin (the joint-venture building the new bridge) by a team that includes the Joseph B. Fay Company and Controlled Demolition Inc.

Using a combination of traditional demolition techniques and controlled (explosive) demolition, five of the nine steel spans of the bridge were dropped. The lights, bridge railings, concrete road and barriers had already been removed through traditional methods, as was the disassembling of several spans that spanned the river and rail lines.

The public was invited to watch the demolition. For their safety a 1,000-ft. (305 m) perimeter was established for the blast zone and many local roadways including I-90, the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge, Abbey Avenue and others, were closed during the event.

The new bridge, consisting of one span in each direction, is a major ODOT project to help people access and exit Cleveland’s downtown in a more efficient manner. The first span is carrying traffic in both directions until the new span open in late 2016.

The Joseph B. Fay Company began work on the demolition in mid-January and expected to complete the job in mid-September, said Chuck Grabner, project engineer.

“The removal of the existing bridge is one of the most significant items, as the new structure shares a portion of its foot print with its predecessor,” he said. “In addition, winter weather conditions at the start of the project were tough to battle through. A third challenge is that the improvements below the Innerbelt Bridge include the Cuyahoga River, CSX RR, Norfolk Southern RR, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, multiple streets and businesses.

“In order to conquer this challenge, enormous coordination effort starting with the general contractor and including all stakeholders has been needed,” he added. “Having all the vested interests in this project involved from the start is proving to be the keystone of producing a successful outcome for everyone involved.”

When the demolition is complete, 34 million lbs. of steel will be recycled, and 27,000 cu. yd. (20,643 cu m) of superstructure and substructure concrete will be recycled and used by the general contractor for various items on the new bridge.

Environmental concerns are key to the removal of material that sits above the river in order to minimize the impact on the ecosystem.

“During deck removal operations, sectional barges located below the structure were used as part of the shielding system,” said Grabner, “and during steel removal operations, pre-engineered sections of the superstructure steel were piece marked. As each section was retrieved from the river, it was accounted for by multiple agencies governing the project. Furthermore, upon completion of the superstructure removal, the USCG performed a sonar scan to ensure that indeed every section had been retrieved. We left nothing to chance.”

Approximately 40 workers are on-site daily for the demolition and the safety of the personnel and equipment is paramount.

“Fall Protection is one of the most critical safety measures, as almost everything removed is at height,” said Grabner. “Engineered tie-off systems and guardrail systems are at the forefront of the preplanning process. Removal procedures are developed and followed through the implementation using those systems. In addition, our safety department conducts extensive employee training.”

Joseph B. Fay-owned excavators make up the majority of the equipment on the project, which range from Kobelco 115 (30,000 lb. class) all the way up to Komatsu PC 650 (130,000 lb. class), with the bulk of the fleet being made up of Komatsu PC-300’s (70,000 lb. class) and PC-400s (100,000 lb. class). There is also an extensive array of tools including: specialty buckets, long reach stick and boom, Rammer hammers, Nye pulverizers, and Genesis shears on-site to accommodate the various removal tasks.

“Multiple all-terrain cranes ranging from 55 ton to 600 ton capacities were used to remove portions of the superstructure,” said Grabner, “with the lion’s share of the work being performed by 500 and 600 ton cranes. Additionally, 200 ton and 300 ton crawler cranes were also utilized on the project.”

Cranes were rented from All Erection & Crane of Cleveland and Maxim Crane of Pittsburgh, and a Genesis 1500 R hydraulic shear is being rented from Anderson Equipment and a PC-800 (180,000 lb. class) excavator is being rented from Company Wrench.

Joseph B. Fay knows the value of having on-site mechanics to ensure that schedules are met.

“As most of our operations are equipment intensive,” said Grabner, “preventative maintenance and running repairs performed by our full time on-site mechanic is crucial to the success of the project.”