VALLEY VIEW, Ohio — Northeast Ohio has a thing for major bridge projects. Remember the innerbelt bridge project that wrapped up a few years ago? Well there’s another one in the works – currently the largest project in Ohio and 4th in the state’s history.
Interstate 480’s Valley View Bridge carries a whopping 180,000 vehicles per day, making it the most traveled bridge in the state. And to alleviate some of the traffic slowdowns, 2 bridges will become 3 by the year 2024.
When finished, there will be a total of 12 lanes – 6 in each direction.
A project of this size presented a problem for construction workers who needed to build a bridge between two existing bridges. Typically, that’s not the order you do things, especially when you have to maintain traffic in the process.
The solution: a gantry crane system!
“We’ve got the gantry cranes setup to help us erect the steel and construct a new bridge in the middle,” said Amanda McFarland, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) northeast region. “It’s a very fascinating project.”
The system is actually a trio of cranes that are controlled by a single operator. Each crane uses laser guidance to keep a specific distance from the other two. The crane uses the existing bridges for support and can ride newly installed rails across the 4,155 footlong gap.
So far, construction has been going smoothly.
“The substructure, the piers that are coming out of the ground -- we’re about 90 percent complete there, girder erection we’re about 60 percent complete on that part,” said McFarland after we toured the worksite.
She continued, “they’ve started to put the pan decking down for the bridge pours. You saw the rebar getting into place. And they also have the Bid-Well set up to be able to do the first deck pour.”
That first pour is scheduled for next week when trucks bring in concrete during overnight hours.
Enough about construction. How long do drivers have to wait?
For the most part, workers and all construction equipment will be out of the way in late 2023.
The new bridge is expected to be used in fall of 2021. That’s when eastbound traffic on the current bridge will shift to the new one to allow the old eastbound bridge deck to be replaced. That will take about a year to complete.
In fall 2021, traffic will be shifted again. The westbound traffic will then use the new bridge while the old westbound bridge deck is replaced. That deck replacement will also take one year.
In fall of 2022 traffic will return to its original configuration (as it is today) so that a middle divider can be added to the new bridge to separate traffic.
In 2024, all three bridges will be fully open with smooth driving surfaces, new parapet walls and fencing.
It’s seems like a long way away but is worth the wait for drivers who sit in the current traffic on I-480.
Total cost: $227 million dollars.