This is an impressive and large multi-span concrete arch bridge noted for its attractive design as built by notable state highway department engineer D. H. Overman. The arch span over the river has an unusual shape because the eastern end of the span bears on the steep cliff along the river. Despite its beauty and historic significance, the bridge has been allowed to deteriorated to the point that signs are posted under the bridge warning people of falling concrete. Pieces of concrete were indeed observed under the bridge on the ground.
Above: Historical photo of bridge, showing original railing.
Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory
The bridge carries a 4-lane highway and sidewalks over a deep ravine and parkway in Fairview Park.
The 15 span, 1,919'-long bridge has open-spandrel arch main spans flanked by T beam approach spans. The high-rise arches are two-ribbed with slender spandrel columns and arched caps supporting a cantilevered deck. The bridge has lancet-arch shaped panels at the piers. The bridge was rehabilitated in 1989, which included replacement railings and cantilevered deck sections to increase the bridge deck width.
Loss of cover material; exposed rebar, crumbling, and spalling. Deck widened and steel railings are new.
Summary of Significance
"The 1933 open-spandrel arch bridge is one of Ohio's signature bridges designed by D. H. Overman and the state bridge bureau. The setting allows for a high-rise arch, illustrating the architectural lightness and proportions of the open spandrel arch type to great effect. The bridge was rehabilitated in 1989 without adverse effect. The eligible recommendation remains appropriate. There are 25 open spandrel arch bridges dating from 1907 to 1957 in the inventory (Phase 1A, 2008). ""The reinforced concrete open spandrel arch was first constructed around 1906. It was the dominant form for concrete bridges in the 1920s and 1930s. By eliminating the walls and fill material of the closed spandrel, dead loads were reduced and cost savings were seen in materials with the open spandrel. Aesthetics was another factor with the open spandrel. They had a lightness and visual appeal and were used in prominent or scenic locations. Open spandrel construction marked engineering prowess during the 1930s and 1940s. By the 1940s, the open spandrel concrete structure began to be supplanted by the more pre-stressed beam and reinforced concrete girder structures. Open spandrel arch bridges have pierced spandrel wall with no fill material, and the spandrel columns transmit dead and live load from the deck to the arch. The arch ring may be either solid (barrel) or ribbed. Open spandrel arch bridges require more formwork to construct than filled spandrel bridges. Open spandrel concrete arches, while not uncommon, are not as common as many other bridge types built during this same era. They are significant because they represent the evolution of concrete technology. To be considered significant, open spandrel arches should have integrity through the retention of their character-defining features, which include arch ribs, ring or barrel; spandrel; spandrel columns; railing or parapet; and piers, abutments, and wingwalls."" [From: A Context for Common Historic Bridge Types by Parsons Brinckerhoff, October 2005]"
Because of the early emphasis on aesthetics at the local and state levels, Ohio has an impressive assemblage of long and shorter open spandrel arch bridges dating from 1907 through World War II. Twenty-three of the 25 predate World War II. This example is the work of D. Henry Overman, considered one of the finest bridge designers of his day. It has extremely high artistic merit.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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