Built too well...

Submitted by lmcshane on Sat, 04/28/2007 - 13:26.

The beautifully engineered Fulton Road bridge was scheduled to be demolished today...like so many other beautiful and neglected structures it was "condemned" for being built too well.  It is fitting that it will not come down without a fight.  Built too well...an epitaph that could be applied to so many abandonned and condemned properties in Cleveland.  But politicians and contractors need to make money, so everyone (main stream media especially) shyed away from this story--a story that includes human and environmental elements--families that filed a lawsuit to try and prevent the taking of their property and the destruction of an historic WPA-era stone wall and graceful elm trees.  Can anyone name a recent civic structure built to compare to the solid grace and beauty of the Fulton Rd. bridge?  See Hunter Morrison's thoughts on bridges.

Fulton Road Bridge.jpg9.84 KB
( categories: )

Chunks of that bridge have

Chunks of that bridge have been falling off for years, I recall seeing some design plans for the new bridge and thought it was nice that they were going to use concrete arches and decorative lighting. 


If your interested in inlfuencing the design of the New Bridge.... Baker Corp is enigineering it.



"it will incorporate creative aesthetic treatments to generate interest and enthusiasm for the new structure from the public who will view this highly visible bridge in large numbers on a daily basis from the zoo.it will incorporate creative aesthetic treatments to generate interest and enthusiasm for the new structure from the public who will view this highly visible bridge in large numbers on a daily basis from the zoo.it will incorporate creative aesthetic treatments to generate interest and enthusiasm for the new structure from the public who will view this highly visible bridge in large numbers on a daily basis from the zoo."

HNTB is the design architecs,


Fulton Road Bridge no more!


"I made my request, I asked for decorative concrete arches and a clear view of the valley from the deck, some nice lighting and a wide sidewalk."  

Where do you live?

I live here by the bridge.  Do you know the people who will have what-little-backyards-they- have destroyed?  Can you imagine a superhighway in your backyard?  A group of residents including myself met with the Metroparks to review the overkill bike lanes added to the bridge--at the expense of these homeowners.  Dick Kerber admitted they were a stupid addition. Bike lanes to nowhere. Fulton can not be widened to accommodate bike lanes.  It's a colossal stupidity at the expense of homeowners on West 44th St., so that City of Cleveland planners can say that we are a bike-friendly city. Bike-friendly my ...  I am not reaming you for your comments.  Just think again.  The bridge was allowed to decline.

Horton hears a Who?!

See Lisa Chamberlain and Denise Donaldson's letters in this week's Free Times.  Volume 15, Issue 6  Published June 13th, 2007

Can any one hear the voices of reason?  Listen harder, people.

Passing of a Giant


Just a reflection on the tragic bridge collapse in Minneapolis and gratitude that our city has not been subjected to the same horror, yet.  I must traverse the Brooklyn-Brighton bridge and I know that despite the assurances of city engineers, it is unsafe.  Watch the bridge--every Monday--as cars, buses, trucks and human beings pile up to go to zoo.  Tell me that this is a well-designed bridge.

a shame to see it go

I agree with Laura that it is a shame to see the bridge go and if you search "Breuer" here, you may find other opinions about the Cleveland Trust Tower. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To me, the bridge is more beautiful than any new one ODOT will build, and the Breuer far exceeds in beauty the glassy suburban mall like structure KPF proposes.


I don't understand your quotes. Are you quoting some document or is that you speaking between those quotes?


Also, how many people are being considered to be at the zoo everyday. Zoos are not for me with their imported caged animals from other habitats. I would not think of a bridge removal and replacement being about the aesthetics of a bridge seen from below, If aesthetics were the issue, they certainly went the wrong way.

It seems if came out recently (after the plan was too far gone) that there was not need to demolish it, thet it could be repaired. My mother never would have stood for that in her house. She'd say, “when you have worn that to a ravelin', we can talk about turning it into rags and getting you another, in the meantime, waste not want not.”

It seems to me that there is way too much bridge replacement and road building in our environs currently -- too much money flowing one way -- to roads. Someone surely is making plenty of money from the concrete business, just look at the piles and piles of gravel that grace our lakefront and river's edge.

Cleaning out the cabin is best before you decide that a new armchair is the best choice for the living room.  You can plop down a new piece of furniture anywhere you can find room, but it doesn’t make it a “house beautiful”.  Usually it is just a sign of poor taste and an individual who has little patience for studying and understanding the immediate environment. Just because this bridge for example, looks nice in Texas, doesn’t mean it works here, and a modern Herman Miller chair does not work in a 19th century drawing room. It's important to save what you can, give it the best shot, and then design new element to fit comfortably with the surrounding elements and natural area. ODOT has not so far impressed me with their sensitive design sense. Maybe someday…  OK, really I am not too hopeful on that  issue.


The quotes refer to the fact that a number of properties in Brooklyn Centre and I am sure in other parts of the City have been deemed "condemned," presumably, in some cases, to benefit a development scheme.  Yes, some of these buildings may be legitably condemned, but there seems to be a field day on tearing down properties in the City of Cleveland.  No one is picking up on this. Contracts people.  Someone is being awarded the demolition contracts and someone is being awarded the bike lane construction contracts. 

Thats the end of neglect, if

Thats the end of neglect, if a structure is neglected for two long it becomes economically infeasible to repair it, if it is condemned then it should be structurally unsound.  Ever hear the expression "its got good bones" if some instances it is sitting on a crumbling foundation or it main supports are rotted away. 

The bid process for contract sites specifications, then it open to the public to bid, the bids are then awarded, if you think that they are getting to mcuh then draw up a bussiness plan to start a construction company.  If you under bid and have all the spec met you may get the contracts. 


Demolishing building is a bussiness it pays wages, so does the construction of infill housing to replace the one demolished, abandoned homes get no taxes, at least the abated somes get 1-2% income taxes! 


as far as the bike trails are concerned thats not my thing, I like to ride in the metropark or towpath trail,  I do not exercise in industrial valleys, the idea of riding through the steel mill is not something I would do to often, the air is polluted.   I like multipurpose trails through green space, curb lane bike paths are redundent you can't even keep up with the signs I keep imagining some suburbans lost in the hood with there familes, "did we miss the sign?"  A series of signs does not make bike path, get out from behind the desk.    

I never asked for bike lanes

I never asked for bike lanes I asked for wide side walks, so that kids riding thier bikes across the bridge and adults for that matter can pass each other and also the people looking out over the view of the valley, I asked for benches too, its a great view. 


I think 14 homes are on 44th is that correct?  They have lots depth of what 135 ft is that correct? 


How much did you loose?  I would think that all of those homes have garages that sit on the back of the lots.... so will they also take out your garages? 


I cant' picture a highway...I can picture a brand new bridge though I can also picture it looking very much like the old one when it was new. 


Im not being confrontational, but I have trouble imagining the bridge width taking the space that exist between the back of the lots of 44th street and the current side walk that is there.  I seem to remember it being at least 20 ft?   Also there is a bike trail on the other side of the bridge, it right there part of the Metropark on the other side. 


In theory we all paid for the new bridge, but people on w44th if they lost land got a check, care to share how much you got? 


I am sorry if you lost yard space, that stinks but it will or should llok nice when it is all done, not like the bridge that crosses at Pearl Road that one is nasty and does looks like highway. 


They can change the design it is not built yet, perhaps the wider deck need only be on the western side, actually only one side needs sidewalk.  I would also request decorative lighting and hanging baskets from them get the metroparks to water them, the zoo has people that could do that.  That is a solution an extra wide deck that is in sense an observation deck with park benches and trash cans decorative railings  it is nice view.    

I don't live on West 44th St.

But I sympathesize with the folks that do live on West 44th St.   The "new" bridge design is set in stone according to all the "players"...they don't care about the families affected and "no" they don't have the large lots you describe.  One of the houses known as "the castle" has no backyard.  You can see it from the bluff.  And you are right,  why have bike lanes on the east side of the bridge?--why not bike lanes on the western side only, which does connect with the upper level of Brookside park.  All questions left unanswered and information not made widely known.  I am not being confrontational either.  I am grateful that you expressed an interest, since many politicians were contacted and they ignored the issue.

Four properties on 44th

Four properties on 44th lost between 40 and 430 square feet, that 6-20ft in linear feet.

I would guess that the lots run at an angle to Fulton, they are all in the 3800 block and they are all recorded at 135ft, that is from the side walk to the back of the lot. 

I would assume the lot closer to the bluff must be the ones that lost the most otherwise the home on Denison would to have been demolished. Since there is 14 properties on the street then by deduction the last four parcels would be the ones, yep I checked on google earth the last four are close to the bridge they are loosing the land.  But if the information on the county site is true 6-20ft  then I would say that because of that angle very little encroachment would be occuring closer to Denison.  The fifth house lost none, those large trees next to the house on Denison should remain I would assume?  That is if they don't have plans for a turning right only lane?  I do not see a need for one but that is just me?   

Really fascinating exploration on Fulton Street Bridge

I saw Tim and Gloria Ferris at NOTACON today and they were sharing their experience watching the Fulton Street Bridge not implode this morning. This does not seem like any form of progress... in fact, the embodied energy in this bridge will never be recovered. If it had to go, nothing should take its place... back to nature. These are not times for such environmental waste... if we can do without for a while we can forever.... Tim and Gloria seem to agree.

It is so interesting to see how people think and act at the community level. It makes me think of a discussion, at Defrag, with Jim O'Brien, publisher of Lakewood Observer, about community newspapers and the internet and where people focus their attention... he sees that being local and I do not have that experience. Some people live in a place for long times - generations - and get rooted. I grew up in the same home where my parents live today, but I have lived all over the country, so I don't feel I have a home anywhere now... I'm still exploring. So what will attract me to where I may want to settle down? Is a cool old building a real draw, or is it cool people. I believe, when I find someplace where I actually want to live long term, it will be because of people.

So community planning should revolve around the interests of the people who live there. And, I love seeing that expressed here or anywhere, so well enabled by the Internet.  Cleveland leadership doesn't get that.

Disrupt IT

Laura, don't say "set in stone"

Nothing is "set in stone" yet so far as the sidewalks or the bike lanes are concerned--the things that comprise the proposed deck of the new bridge, the things that make the "takings" a topic of discussion. When you write this way, implying "done deals," you're only giving traction to whoever it is you're referring to as "players." We all need to frame the issue better, and we must frame it as it stands right now.

The facts of the matter are (1) that there is a legal action filed and grinding its way through the court systems, with depositions yet to be scheduled; (2) the single pot of money allocated for the demolition and for the reconstruction may now not cover the reconstruction, given proper public scrutiny and control of cost overruns; (3) if a bridge does not go back up, there is no need for any "takings" of private property; (4) we all need to quickly reexamine whether any more blasting should be done at all, since it seems more and heavier blasting is needed, over and above what was planned, and heavier and more frequent blasting may de-stabilize the surrounding slopes; (5) we need to reexamine the data and calculations used by the demolition people from Texas in this last attempt, and find why the demolition people from Missouri declined to do the job; (6) a bridge deck that starts from a narrow road at the south end, goes to a super-wide deck, contracts to a narrow road between two gas stations at the north end, and proceeds to a still-narrow new overpass spanning I-71 is just a stupid, wasteful design.

I think this Saturday blast fiasco should bring out questions as to the competence not of Kokosing or of the demolitions contractor, but of ODOT and Baker and Associates, who ruthlessly and recklessly have orchestrated this needless destruction from the beginning.

The men working on the project right now are at extreme risk, for a number of reasons. The people at the top of the slopes are at risk of losing their properties because of possible improper or negligent planning, and the excessive blasting that may now ensue, given the fact that ODOT and Baker have created a situation that needs a speedy resolution.

I say take the explosives off the bridge now, recalculate whether we can withstand the blasting now required, and make an intelligent decision as to whether to take it down with shaped charges (dropping it en masse, which they already tried to do, and failed to do) or take it down piecemeal.


I hope you are right Tim.  We have other preservation issues to contend with as well in this neighborhood.  Picture a kid holding a wooden sword with a trash can lid for a shield.  That's us. 

I have been here before.  I lived on East 115th St. in University Circle.  I watched Cozad House and other great vernacular structures deteriorate.  I don't want to talk about who the players were in that arena.  Needless to say,  I was heartened to see that a 72-year old grandmother was able to get them to see the error of their ways.  I don't know Joan Southgate, but in my book, she is an urban hero.

Susan the first quote is

Susan the first quote is from the engineering firm building the new bridge, the second was my own, miss use of quotes my bad.  I did not need to quote myself. 


You and Laura can think as you wish,


However the bridge is being hauled away and the brutal tower will be replaced, I will seek out and influence those directly involved in what is comming and not dwell on what should have or could have happened, I appreciate the past and significant architecture so much so that I can't live anyhwhere other than Shaker Heights. 


Laura asked "where do you live" 


I appreciate all types of architecture, but sometimes we need to bury the dead and let go of the past. 


The bridge lost it railing and deck in the 80's, if you think about it restoring it would not change the deck, it would be new either way, the structure itself could have been repaired but the engineers said the degradation was to severe.    


How long should the 1970 tower stand vacant...another decade...if you had a tennant for it in you pocket you should have let them out.  The county picked a functionaly obsolecent structure, cold and sterile inside and out...in my opinion. 


What happened on E105 to Mt. Sinai, that one got me, not the purple tiled building but the old brick structure...people tried to save it but failed.  Now I hope that they build something grand on the site.    


You know it is big city, I drove around 44108 today, went down Parkland and around thought wow so much peotential. East Blvd, North and South as well, Parkgate, Weistminster I think what happened?  It is a interesting part of the city, between Rockefeller park and Forest Hills.  I understand the frustration over the innerbelt it sliced up the city, but to me the report they published on March 29 was a message, they are attempting to repair damage, the rifts the lack of any architectual detail. 


I spoke with Robert Brown, I said "can we get some decking"  he said he would like to see some at Prospect.  Be aware these funds are federal funds, When people keep saying tax payer dollars, I agree, but Boston got 13 billion, we should be looking to see how they mangaged that not doing grass root budget control.  If the project cost 500M or 1.5B we will not get the differance it is not al-a-cart funds.  The more spent the better the results.  They do not want dime store engineering or trafffic control advice they need to be enocurged to provide asthetics, landscaping lighting choices, bridges and trench design choices. 


My mother say becarfeull what you belive it can become that, you know if you keep telling people they will f**k it up they may just to spite you.  If you are too critcal they just ignore you.