Monday, June 17, 2013

The Final Stretch

© Stuart Pearl 2013 - Click on Image to Enlarge for Slideshow

By late November of this year we should have a new Westbound Innerbelt Bridge.   Construction is now in the home stretch for this $275M+ project. 

For me this has been a photographer's dream.  This area of Cleveland has provided many opportunities to create art from construction.  The Project Team has been very generous in providing supervised access to the construction zone.  Without them I could not have gotten many of my more interesting shots.

June 10, 2013 - This view from Tremont Bluffs shows river barges supporting a massive crane and beam for this section of the bridge which spans the Cuyahoga.  It takes an entire barge to support the 175' long, 100,000 pound steel beam which is being raised into place.  The crane sits on an adjacent barge.

The distance between Pier #4 (Tremont side)  and Pier #5 (Flats East Bank) is 380' as it traverses the river.  The top of the beam is 130' above the normal elevation of the water.  The next photo shows how the 50 ton beam appears from the East bank.

There are always a number of cranes on site.   To my eye they seem to fall into two categories:  the large heavy lifters for positioning the structural steel, and the smaller more maneuverable "bucket" cranes for lifting the ironworkers into position.


June 19, 2013 - From this vantage point the Norfolk & Southern Railway trestle as well as the old (background) and new Innerbelt spans seem to criss-cross in one huge pattern of steel.

Nearly 50 years ago Moses Pearl set up his easel on Tremont Bluff.  It was most likely on University Road just north of Sokolowski's University Inn.  The Flats was often a favorite subject of my father's paintings. 
This particular watercolor is a large three-dimensional triptych - a picture in three parts, and it shows the Norfolk and Southern Railway bridge on the left with the current Innerbelt bridge on the right.  He loved this sort of busy composition.  The original bridge was completed in 1959 and this painting was finished about 8-10 years after that. 

For a time the compositional elements of this painting confused me.  When I finally located dad's "easel spot" the actual view did not look like the painting.  Everything within my actual view seemed to be more spread out than what was represented in the painting.  

I asked him why he squashed everything so closely together.  With a whimsical smile he winked and said "artistic license." 
Dad tended to do that, taking all the interesting compositional elements in his field of view and compressing them onto his canvas for the viewer.  He felt it often made for a more interesting painting or drawing.

The Lafarge Cement Company on W. 3rd is in the middle of of the Innerbelt construction.  Typically off limits, it offers interesting views of the skyline framed by bridge iron and gravel mounds.

Even though the structural steel work has not yet been completed, painters have begun their work on the concrete piers of the new bridge.  You can see the off-white epoxy coating in the photos below.  Eventually the steelwork will be painted a darker off-white that will contrast with the piers.  The light paint will serve as canvas for the thousands of colored LED floodlight bulbs that will play across its surface.

December 28, 2012 - This is how construction looked in the Flats Valley.  A number of delta structures had already been mounted and the crews were making early progress connecting the piers.

One of the things I love about construction photography is the opportunity for finding abstract shapes and patterns within the steel and concrete.  Combine this with the high contrast light you have from a low angle sun and some powerful images can be created. 

Below, the Cleveland Rowing Club is seen passing by Pier #4 in April of this year.


The photo below shows a number of floor beams resting near Pier #3.  These weigh about 1,500 Lbs each and mount at  right angles to the much longer 100,000 lb steel beams.

Work also continues on the east end of the bridge as it crosses over W. 3rd St. in the flats.  This shot was taken on March 3 as a CSX engine was moving to another siding.

March 28, 2013 - The shot above shows the left pillar of Pier #9 as well as Piers 8 - 5 as they recede off to the west.

The two photos above show Pier #11 which is the widest of these structures.  The new Ontario St. ramp merges with the bridge deck at this point so it is necessary for this pier to be large enough to accommodate both roadbeds.

The author stands at the end of Pier #11 on the east bank as it overlooks the Flats valley.