Whether it’s streets, sidewalks or bridges, time has a way of turning reliable assets into liabilities. That’s why the City has 5 year Capital Improvement Plan — we take stock of what we’ve got, check to see how its holding up and make plans to repair or replace accordingly.
The closure of the Redmond Bridge (old wooden bridge that crosses the Cuyahoga River to access the Parks and Recreation ball fields) is a stark reminder that sometimes infrastructure and mother nature don’t always cooperate with the best laid plans.
The Parks and Recreation Department have been working with the City Engineering Division to quarterly check the condition of the old wooden piers that hold that bridge up. Even to the untrained eye the piers have shown signs of water-rot for some time now — the question has been are those piers just looking bad on the outside or is the integrity of their strength on the inside in question too.
Everyone understands that these piers are nearing the end of their service life, but like old cars, they could safely keep chugging along for another couple of years, or as appeared to happened, they might start sputtering out sooner.
Obviously safey is the top priority when it comes to bridges, and even though this bridge only serves as access to and from the park ball fields, the Parks and Engineering staff take bridge safety very seriously no matter how many people cross the bridge. To that end, for the last year, the City Engineers have been poking and prodding all around the piers every quarter to draw reasoned conclusions for the rate of decline in the safety of the bridge. They’re looking for evidence of things getting worse in the piers that could affect the load carrying capacity and structural integrity of the bridge.
Infrastructure decline can happen slowly or it can happen unexpectedly, so the key is to keep checking it often so that you have a good baseline to identify any changes at the earliest possible moment. It appears that moment came for the Redmond Bridge sometime over the last 3 months as the round of inspections done this past week indicated that the bridge had actually shifted in place.
In bridge parlance, shifting is not a good thing. Does it mean that a collapse is imminent? We can’t necessarily predict that but when a bridge is moving it’s safe to say that the risk is too high to keep the bridge open which is why the Parks and Engineering staff decided the bridge had to be closed.
Of course the bridge trouble had to happen just as the Kent Parks and Rec ball fields were entering their peak baseball season, so the staff is scrambling to make contingency plans but as inconvenient as those plans may be, there really is no other choice at the moment. I know the Engineers will work with Parks and Rec to secure the bridge, stabilize the piers and make replacement plans ASAP but all those things take time, so for the short term the Redmond Bridge will be off the grid.