Given the high traffic volumes that use the Fairchild/Crain Avenue bridge we knew from the start that the key to success of the project would not just be ending up with a shiny new bridge, it would also be how we got the shiny new bridge in place, which is why we made a commitment to do everything we could to minimize the traffic disruption.
Easier said than done on the largest bridge project in the history of Portage County.
There’s no doubt that traffic has been impacted during construction as lanes have been shifted, reduced and moved around over the last 12 months of the project, but hang on to your hat because starting Wednesday, July 20th and running through Monday July 25th the bridge will be closed.
C-L-O-S-E-D…as in no traffic at all…as in how the heck do I get across the Cuyahoga River to head north out of town?
The best answer is to just stay and shop and eat in Kent this week and forget heading north but if that’s not a realistic option you’ll have to use the Haymaker Parkway bridge to access State Route 43. It’s admittedly inconvenient but it’s probably less than a quarter mile out of way so hopefully for 5 days we will survive.
The bridge closure really was an option of last resort. Our City Engineer lives and breathes this project and after the first 12 months he knows exactly how frustrating the whole detouring thing can be for everyone, and the last thing he wants to do is to give everyone inspiration to call him up and share their insights into his latest decision on this project — but some decisions are unavoidable, so here we go.
In his defense, our City Engineer offers the following explanation for the bridge closure:
During this closure the contractor will raise the upper tracks (A.B.C. Railroad) to its final elevation. Since the rail line crosses the existing bridge, the bridge must be closed during this work. A detour will be posted and emergency vehicle access to all areas will be maintained. Businesses along Lake Street that receive truck shipments have been coordinated with to allow them access without driving through residential neighborhoods.
The original plans called for incremental raising of the rail lines without shutting down the Crain Avenue Bridge. However, due to numerous factors including coordination with the railroads, underground utilities, hazardous materials and weather delays the method of raising the tracks required changing.
The raising of the tracks (approximately four feet) is required to open the new Fairchild Avenue Bridge, which is scheduled for this October.