Corrosion Under Coating Shuts Down OH Bridge

FRIDAY, MAY 13, 2022

A bridge in Brooklyn, Ohio, was shut down earlier this week when inspectors found corrosion under the beams coated with fire protection. The Cuyahoga County Department of Public Works announced on May 10 that the Memphis Avenue Bridge would be closed until further notice.

The county had hoped to keep one lane of the three-span bridge open during its $5.8 million replacement project. Contractors who were working to demolish the southernmost span reportedly noticed an issue with beams in the center span.

When inspectors were sent to check the beams, which are coated with fire protection, they had “sufficient reason” to shut down the bridge.

“What they found was those beams, even though there was no indication from the outside, there was no swelling, cracking, rust, anything like that, once we took that material off there was some serious rust and corrosion going on with those beams,” said Tom Sotak, an engineer and the Director of Cuyahoga County Public Works.

Sotak added that the section loss was at a point where there was no longer an option to keep the bridge open even to one lane traffic. According to reports, the neighboring Memphis Kiddie Park will not be affected by the closure and is expected to open as scheduled on May 21, with officials agreeing to move road closure barriers back towards the bridge to allow access to the park’s parking lot.

“Obviously we try to keep these bridges open because it is not only convenient for the motoring public and the businesses but also emergency vehicles so we take this very seriously,” Sotak said.

Memphis Bridge Project

While construction began on April 4, the 94-year-old Memphis Avenue Bridge has been “on the radar” for the Department of Public Works for a while, with engineering starting in 2016. The current bridge measures 108-feet-long and is 60-feet-wide. The new bridge will reportedly be reduced to 72.5 feet in length and widened to 67 feet.

“The new structure is a single-span composite steel beam structure on full-height abutments located on an offset alignment to the south,” Sotak told “The project was initiated due to excessive deterioration and section loss of the 1928 steel beam structure requiring posting of the bridge to reduce the load limit.”

“This bridge has been flagged for a couple of years,” Brooklyn Mayor Katie Gallagher said. “It’s the county’s job to monitor bridge’s safety and this is completely structural.

“They did add some improvements on the aesthetics. They worked closely with (Memphis) Kiddie Park who helped pick some decorative elements on the bridge because they had to take part of the right away. Kiddie Park had to move their train décor a little bit.”

At the time, the bridge was expected to be open only one way for westbound motorists, with a six-month detour. Recent traffic counts reportedly show that 22,000 vehicles on average cross the bridge.

According to reports, the $5.8 million project will be paid for using 55% federal funds, 25% Cuyahoga County funds and 20% state funds. The project is expected to be completed in July 2023.

“We appreciate everybody’s patience and understanding as we work to replace this important infrastructure asset,” Sotak said.

Other Recent Bridge Shutdowns, Repairs

As the focus on improving infrastructure continues, several recent incidents have highlighted the need for repairs and bridge replacement in the country.

In March, the Colorado Department of Transportation stressed the need for funding and repairs on Interstate 70 after a four-foot-wide pothole opened on the bridge’s deck and damaged several vehicles at the beginning of the month.

On the morning of March 2, CDOT identified a large pothole in the right lane on the westbound I-70 bridge at Exit 244. The lane was immediately closed to traffic.

The department reports that the damage was to the bridge deck and not to the structure, however, the bridge needs replaced despite being deemed structurally safe.

CDOT crews, including bridge experts on staff, repaired the pothole the same day. This involved replacing the corroded rebar, adding additional reinforcement underneath the bridge, patching it with concrete and then paving the area with asphalt.

That same month, the City of Pittsburgh closed the Centre Avenue Bridge, which is rated in “serious” condition, to complete minor repairs. According to a release from the city’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, repairs will focus on the underside of the bridge and is expected to take several months to complete. The shoulders on both sides of the bridge will be closed for the duration of the project.

The 223-foot bridge was initially rated in poor condition beginning in May 2008 due to the condition of its abutments and piers, rating a 4 out of 10, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The bridge was last inspected in May 2020 and was reportedly dropped from the “poor” to “serious” rating due to a “serious structural deficiency” on one of the girders.

The 2020 inspection notes also ordered repairs to be completed within six months, indicating that “if not corrected may jeopardize public safety.” Inspectors were also reportedly concerned about the condition of bolts where the beams are attached to the abutments and concrete loss on the masonry plates.

However, when a follow-up was conducted in November that year, no repair work had been completed and the bridge was put on a three-month inspection schedule. Inspections completed in February, May and July 2021 reported no repairs had been done, but repairs were reportedly being planned as of July.

The Centre Avenue Bridge is one of many bridges that have raised concern in the city since the collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge in January. In February, the South Negley Avenue Bridge, which has a “poor” rating, attracted attention regarding wooden posts beneath the bridge’s deck that appear to support the structure.

Construction of the replacement for the Fern Hollow Bridge are expected to begin this month, and the National Transportation Safety Board also released an update on its investigation in the collapse. The NTSB provided an update on the recovery of structural components and tests currently being conducted to evaluated materials used when constructing the bridge, as well as a review of new footage recovered from a transit bus camera system.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Corrosion; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Inspection; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Passive Fire Protection; Program/Project Management; Rehabilitation/Repair; Safety

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