Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sparks Are Flying

© Stuart Pearl 2014 - Click on Image to Enlarge Photo Gallery

Cleveland's old Innerbelt bridge is fast losing weight.  It shrinks everyday amidst showers of sparks and moving cranes, shedding steel beams like a dog loses fur.  Its concrete deck has been completely removed.  All that remains is a skeleton of steel girders that is no longer continuous across the Flats Valley.  Right now the remains of the old bridge stands directly in the footprint of what will be the new Eastbound span.  That structure will be completed in 2016.


Demolition work began in December 2013 about a month after the new westbound Voinovich Bridge opened.  Giant rotary saws started cutting the old concrete deck as the first steps in taking down the old bridge piece by piece.

A small fleet of machines was used to pre-cut the roadway before jackhammers were moved in to begin breaking up the concrete.
Deconstruction of the bridge has to be done in a controlled fashion.  The entire structure is strongest when it is one continuous piece.  The tremendous weight and many stresses are constantly pulling the whole bridge from a variety of angles.  When beams are cut and sections are removed the bridge has the potential to go out of balance.  Demolition must therefore proceed slowly in a very organized fashion.

Gaps in the old bridge become prominent as huge sections are cut from the spans.  Cranes are used to lower the pieces once the connections have been severed.  This is the first time in over five decades that sunlight filters through the old steel in a myriad pattern of shadows and polka dots.  There is no longer any concrete roadway to block the rays or weather.

Workers are raised into position via "man cage" cranes where they use torches to cut specific beams and braces.  The order of cutting is very specific.  If the wrong steel is cut at the wrong time the bridge could literally fall apart around the workers. 

With the roadbed and steel removed, you feel like an urban archaeologist as old graffiti is discovered and displayed in the light of day.

The archaeological comparison continues as the bridge is reduced to rubble.  Some of the old bridge reminds one of Greek temple ruins. 

Tremont's Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church appears to rise out of the rubble of the old exit ramp at W. 14th and Abbey.

The new Westbound Voinovich Bridge stands in sleek contrast to the old structure as it crosses into Tremont.

Cranes are an essential part of the demolition.  Every cut truss must be accounted for in order to maintain a safe environment. 

In July much of the bridge will be brought down with controlled explosive demolition.  Prior to that time though very specific sections will be removed by hand.  Each beam has to be tethered to a crane before it is cut from the bridge.  Man lift cages are used to raise the workers into position at those locations where cuts are being made.

Some of the steel is being allowed to fall into the Cuyahoga.  Prior to a "drop" each piece is tethered with a floating marker buoy and a steel cable.  Everything must be accounted for so no navigation hazards are created. 

The falling beams settle to the bottom of the river but the colorful buoys indicate their positions to the retrieval crews.  The workers boat out to the marked position, snag the marker buoy and then attach the cable to one of the massive cranes.  The steel is then picked up and placed onto a nearby floating barge.


Steam is generated as the superheated  "torched" beam strike the Cuyahoga.


As of last month over 6,000 tons of steel had been recycled from the demolition by ODOT.  To give you an idea how much that is, it's roughly the same quantity that was used to build the 3.3 million square foot campus for Amazon in Seattle.
The river had to be closed to navigation several days during June as much of the crane and man-lift activity occurred.  It would have been much too hazardous to have the large ships as well as recreational boats operating under the span being dismantled. 

The Flats Valley takes on a completely different look at nightfall.  Demolition continues around the clock and torches show where the activity is.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Road Trips - Restaurants - Reading

© Stuart Pearl 2014 - Click on Image to Enlarge

"Ghostly Rhodo" on exhibit at the Erie Art Museum

Cleveland is well known for its wonderful museums and generous support of the arts.  However if you take a day trip along the north coast and beyond, you'll discover many other fine institutions as well as some beautiful parks.  Typically you can find a nice restaurant to complete the journey.

The Beaches of Presque Isle

East of Lyndhurst is Erie Pennsylvania which is about a 90 minute drive from our home. Every year the Erie Art Museum presents its Spring Art Show, a juried competition that accepts work from around America.  This season my black and white photograph "Ghostly Rhodo" was accepted for the exhibit.  Receiving an honorable mention it is one of 100 works displayed in this show from 86 different artists.  The exhibit runs through July 20, 2014. 

Before returning to Cleveland Jeanne and I like to drive through Presque Isle State Park with its dunes and tree lined shore.  The lake winds make it a great place for kite enthusiasts to show off their latest flying designs and banners.   We usually end our Erie trip with a great perch dinner at Joe Roots Grill , 2826 W. 8th St. in Erie.

Jeanne and I had never really spent any time in Erie until I began submitting work to the museum.  Now we drive there at least twice year.  Who says the arts don't encourage tourism and boost the local economy?

"Guardians Illuminated" on exhibit at Butler

The Butler Institute of American Art is a wonderful museum located adjacent to Youngstown State University in that city.  As much as I enjoy spending entire days in the Cleveland Museum of Art, you can see Butler's exhibits in a couple of hours with minimal walking.  It features great examples of American art that will give you a good sense of our history simply by walking its galleries. 

My photograph "Guardians Illuminated" was just accepted to the 78th Midyear juried exhibition and will hang in that show from July 27 - September 7, 2014.

Cinderella Bridge - Millcreek Metropark

Once you've finished visiting the Butler Jeanne and I strongly recommend a side trip to The Millcreek Metroparks.  It features miles of scenic wooded roads and trails, a modern visitor center with formal garden, cafĂ© and a small gallery.  The park also has a small lake for recreational boating.  All of this is just a few miles from the museum. 

A favorite stop in Millcreek is the "Cinderella" Bridge which was built in 1895 to connect the east and west sides of the park.  It has also been called the Silver Bridge, Walt Disney Bridge and Castle Bridge over the years. 

Youngstown's Millcreek Visitor Center is not far from Davidson's Restaurant .  We typically make  it our meal stop before jumping on the interstate for our return to Cleveland.  They offer good pizza as well as other tasty menu items.

"Wade Lagoon at the CMA" on display at Beachwood Public Library

The Cuyahoga County Public Library has consistently been named one of the best library systems in the country.  In 2013 it lent more items per person than any other large system in the U.S.  They are also strong promoters of culture and arts. 

The Beachwood branch is currently showing the photo exhibit "Capturing Sense of Place in Cleveland." My friend Don Iannone and I assembled this collection of images to show our impressions of the city and the people who work there.  The show closes on Friday June 6.