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Main Avenue Bridge

Cleveland Memorial Shoreway Bridge

Main Avenue Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: June 24, 2007

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Main Avenue (Cleveland Memorial Shoreway) Over Cuyahoga River
Cleveland: Cuyahoga County, Ohio: United States
Structure Type
Metal Cantilever Rivet-Connected Pratt Deck Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Deck Girder, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1939 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
400 Feet (121.9 Meters)
Structure Length
8,000 Feet (2438.4 Meters)
Roadway Width
82 Feet (24.99 Meters)
10 Main Span(s) and 30 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

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

Until 2007, this bridge was the longest bridge in the state. The recent completion of the cable-stayed bridge in Toledo, which is 8800 feet is now the longest. However, this bridge can still be considered the longest historic bridge in Ohio. The total structure length of this historic bridge including ramps is 8000 Feet / 1.5 Miles (2438.4 Meters / 2.4 Kilometers). The main structure alone is listed as 6580 Feet / 1.25 Miles (2005.6 Meters / 2 Kilometers). The bridge's clearance over the river is 100 Feet (30.5 Meters).

This bridge is a significant example of a deck cantilever structure, and represents a significant engineering achievement of the time. Five people were killed during the construction of this bridge.

This bridge is also significant for association with Federal Depression public works funding programs, something shared by a number of Cleveland bridges.

In 2007, the bridge was undergoing a repainting project, which suggests that the future for this historic bridge is bright. Previous projects dated to 1992 and 1978.

Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory


The bridge was constructed as part of the Memorial Shoreway. It carries 6 lanes of traffic over the river and valley and is one of the major viaducts in the city.

Physical Description

The bridge's main spans are 10 continuous-cantilever deck trusses ranging in span length from 200' to 400'. The approach spans are continuous steel girder-floorbeam spans. One of the girder-floorbeam spans at the west end is over 270' long, which was then the longest span girder built in America.


Has integrity.

Summary of Significance

The 1940 cantilever truss bridge was determined eligible in 2002 as part of rehabilitation planning. The Main Avenue bridge, which was built under the auspices of the WPA, is significant as the central feature of Cleveland's urban regional traffic plan, one of the earliest in the nation adopted in the early 1930s. The route was intended to relieve city streets of cross-town and through traffic. The truss itself is in the tradition of cantilever trusses dating to the early 20th century and followed on the heels of Wilbur Watson's successful 1932 Lorain-Carnegie Bridge.

The cantilever truss type/design developed in the U.S. during the 1880s and had emerged by the early 20th century as one of the dominant types for longer spans crossing deep or long rivers where it was difficult, if not impossible, to erect falsework. Truss designs used with cantilever trusses, e.g., Pratt or Warren, mirrored those of the period in which the bridge was built, as did the use of pinned or riveted connections. The great advantage of the cantilever is that it can be built outwards from the towers without falsework to block the channel. Suspended spans can be lifted into place between the cantilever arms. Span lengths of up to 500' are not uncommon, and in the longest examples can exceed 1,000'. The Ohio inventory includes 12 cantilever truss highway bridges dating from 1922 to 1960 (Phase 1A, 2008).


The bridge is one of 11 remaining examples of the design used for long, major crossings of both deck and thru trusses. They date from 1922 through the interstate era. This is not the most significant example. The bridge has moderate significance.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


Photo Galleries and Videos: Main Avenue Bridge

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