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Carter Road Bridge

   


Carter Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: June 24, 2007
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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Carter Road Over Cuyahoga River
Location
Cleveland: Cuyahoga County, Ohio
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1939 By Builder/Contractor: Mount Vernon Bridge Company of Mount Vernon, Ohio

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
220.2 Feet (67.1 Meters)
Structure Length
559 Feet (170.4 Meters)
Roadway Width
42 Feet (12.8 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s) and 9 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
1869264

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Data Pages, PDF

This bridge is next to the Newburg and Southshore Railroad Bridge.

The alterations made to the Carter Road Bridge bridge, which is one of a number of vertical lift bridges in Cleveland, were so severely invasive, that the project really qualifies as reconstructive rehabilitation rather than a preservation project. The entire main riveted truss span appears to have been demolished and replaced with a bolted truss span. This modern span has the same overall appearance as the original span, but does not use rivets for the connections, nor does it use any built-up members. These alterations might not seem critical to a casual viewer, but anyone who has worked with historic bridges will quickly notice this, and find the bridge less appealing visually. Only the towers appear to contain original materials.

 Certainly, what was done to this structure was better than outright demolition. Indeed, preservation is often about compromise, and trying to find a solution that fits both parties. Perhaps this was the only option available here. However, it would be tragic to see such an invasive project done to all of Cleveland's historic bridges. At least a couple of the city's vertical lift bridges deserve a genuine restoration project that retains as many original materials as possible, and replaces any damaged parts with replicas. For instance, a riveted built-up beam that was not able to be repaired would be replaced with an exact replica... built-up and using rivets.

Be sure to review the HAER page for the bridge, as it contains a narrative history, and photos of the bridge prior to alteration.

Finally, the HSR rating below reflects the bridge as it is today, not prior to alteration. The rating is low, given the number of vertical lifts in Cleveland and the nation that retain original truss spans. Oddly, the Historic Bridge Inventory, which normally finds bridges with such severe alteration to be ineligible for the National Register of Historic Places, did not comment on or was unaware of these alterations.

Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory

Physical Description

The vertical lift bridge has a 220'-long lift main span flanked by approach spans. This is a Waddell-design with the battered built-up steel towers, concrete counterweights, and operators house perched in the center of the span. The trussed lift span is a Pratt configuration with polygonal upper chord.

Summary of Significance

One of four vertical lift highway bridges over the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, the 1940 Carter Road Bridge is a complete example of the movable bridge type. There has been no significant change in the bridge's status since the prior inventory. The eligible recommendation remains appropriate.

A vertical lift bridge is a movable bridge that rises and descends in the same vertical plane, maintaining at all times a horizontal position. Vertical lift bridges had been built in the United States since the 1850s, but the early examples had modest span lengths and were usually associated with canals, like the Erie Canal. Engineer J. A. L. Waddell's 1894 South Halsted Street bridge over the Chicago River (Chicago, Illinois) is considered the first modern vertical lift bridge. Most long-span vertical lift bridges since the South Halsted Street bridge, including the four examples in Cleveland, have been variations of the Waddell design. The Waddell vertical lift bridge has a central power source, housed in a mechanical room on the lift span and moving up and down with it. Gear trains transfer power to the winding drums and wire ropes. The span is raised and lowered by means of the ropes passing over sheaves on built-up steel towers and connected to concrete counterweights about equal to the span weight. Vertical lift bridges, most dating from the 1910s to 1960s, are found throughout the U.S. over navigable rivers and waterways. As of 2007, there were 187 vertical lift highway bridges in the U.S. as reported in federal NBI data. There are also a significant number of vertical lift railroad bridges, which operate on the same principles.

Justification

Five of the seven vertical lift or swing span movable bridges are located in industrial Cleveland over the Cuyahoga River and date to 1901. Their ranks are augmented by the many vertical lift, swing span and rolling lift bridges that carry railroads over navigable water. Railroad bridges are not included in this database, but they certainly represent their technologies as well as the vehicular examples, and when considered as a whole population, the bridge types are common. The bridge has moderate significance.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

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Photos and Videos: Carter Road Bridge

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