Bridge similar to one that collapsed in Miami planned for downtown Cleveland

The Cleveland Lakefront Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge project. (Source: Rosales Partners)
The Cleveland Lakefront Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge project. (Source: Rosales Partners)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Officials are just beginning to investigate what led to the deadly bridge collapse at Florida International University Thursday afternoon.

Cleveland 19 wanted to know: what kind of pedestrian bridge was it, and are there any like it in Northeast Ohio?

We learned the pedestrian bridge that collapsed in Florida is called a cable-stay bridge.

As it stands, there are no bridges like this in the Cleveland area, but that will change in the future.

Plans for a similar type of pedestrian bridge downtown are in the works, right now.

You may not even notice pedestrian bridges overhead as you're driving down major interstates around Cleveland, on I-90, I-77 and I-490.

Those bridges have been there for awhile.

"Most of the time for both the construction and the life of the bridge, these things are perfectly safe. We travel across them all the time and we don't even think twice about going over them," said Michael Pollino, an associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Case Western Reserve University.

Pollino points out that the Cleveland Lakefront Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge, slated to begin construction next year, is similar to the bridge in Florida.

It will link Cleveland's Malls to the Great Lakes Science Center.

According to the renderings by Rosales and Partners, cables connect the bridge to the deck.

"The bridge down in Florida is a cable-stay bridge. It is a concrete bridge deck with cable stays," Pollino said.

The pedestrian bridge at FIU was built using accelerated bridge construction, or ABC.

"It is a construction technique which is becoming more and more prevalent where you can fabricate or manufacture large bridge components off of the site and transport them into the site and then rapidly deploy them in the field," Pollino said.

This type of construction typically does not affect traffic as much as other types of construction, because it is completed at the location so quickly.

Pollino says one of the most challenging times for bridge safety is during construction.

He says there will be several reviews of what happened in Florida.

"The interesting thing will be what initiated the collapse, was there potentially a flaw in materials, a flaw in construction process, or maybe just some freak occurrence," he said.

Pollino says a freak problem was likely not the cause.

He says most pedestrian bridges are designed to last 75 years.

The bridge in Florida had a lifespan of 100 years and was built to withstand Category 5 hurricanes.

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