Main Avenue Bridge, Cleveland, Ohio
Almost no one ever refers to the Main Avenue Bridge (or Viaduct) in Cleveland by its true name. Dedicated in early 1986 to the memory of the city’s 45th Mayor, Harold H. Burton, the span will to locals and visitors alike forever be the Main Avenue Bridge.
This fine piece of engineering — at an approximate overall length of 8,000 feet, the longest elevated structure in Ohio — is a cantilevered truss bridge, with its surface roadway hanging a considerable distance off each edge of the supporting structure below. (That engineering came at a price; five people were killed before completion of the span’s construction in 1939 with Depression-era Federal support.) The bridge replaced an earlier span that had served the growing city since the late 1860s.
The Main Avenue Bridge carries Cleveland’s Memorial Shoreway (State Route 2) to a clearance of 100 feet above the winding Cuyahoga River below. The structure links the Erie lakeshore of downtown and its many attractions — Cleveland Browns Stadium, The Great Lakes Science Center, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Burke Lakefront Airport and more — with the neighborhoods of Cleveland’s Near West Side and the City of Lakewood farther west.
In the process, the span leaps and bounds over much of Cleveland’s Flats and threads through a portion of its Warehouse District, offering ready access to the primary downtown accesway of East Ninth Street. The winding and high-speed roadway riding the bridge offers unobstructed panoramas of the city’s Lake Erie shoreline as well as the downtown skyline.
The Main Avenue Bridge has undergone successive renovations and rehabilitations in 1978, 1992 and 2007. It has recently been painted its now-distinctive strident blue. When uplit at night, this engineering marvel provides a dramatic scenic frame for the sparkle and life of Cleveland’s Flats entertainment and recreation venues far below.
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