CLEVELAND -- The city was rocked -- literally -- early Saturday morning as crews brought down a familiar piece of Cleveland history.
Controlled explosives shook downtown like a mini earthquake around 6 a.m. as the 1959 Innerbelt Bridge was crumbled to the ground.
In the demolition, five of the nine steel spans of the old bridge disappeared in a matter of seconds.
The I-90 Innerbelt Bridge first opened to traffic on Aug. 15, 1959.
Thousands of Clevelanders said their final goodbyes to the bridge as it vanished forever into the Cuyahoga River Valley.
Demolition began in January 2014 and has been a sequenced activity much like construction, only in reverse. The bridge railings, lights, barriers and concrete driving surface were all removed using traditional methods as well as specific steel spans over the river and railroads.
Concrete piers and one additional steel span will be demolished this summer using traditional methods. Demolition is expected to be complete by the end of August.
When the bridge opened in 1959 it was the widest bridge in Ohio, carrying four lanes in each direction. The bridge carried interstate traffic in both directions and was a classic steel "Pratt Deck Truss" with a cast-in-place concrete deck and steel parapets. It stood 128 feet tall, 116 feet wide and was 5,078 feet long.
ODOT is in the midst of replacing the 1959 bridge with two new structures – one to carry traffic in each direction. The pair have been named in honor of statesman George V. Voinovich. Replacement of the 1959 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 late 2016.