Henderson Bridge NOT Being Replaced

On March 19th, the following comment was left on this post:

 Odot is threatening to tear down this bridge and replace it in 2016. I hope people in Lorain that appreciate this bridge will join me and the other historic bridge advocates to try to stop this.

I sent the commenter an email, asking for his source of this information. He provided me with this link which listed the following write-up:

Lofton Henderson Memorial Bridge (Lorain County, Ohio)
The bridge: A cantilevered through truss, this 1939 bridge carries four lanes of traffic high above the Black River Ship Channel.
The significance: An iconic part of Lorain, Ohio, this bridge is National Register eligible and recognized as “Select” on the Ohio Historic Bridge List.
The situation: Despite having a relatively good sufficiency rating (58.7), officials want to get rid of this bridge. The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency website says that the bridge is programmed for replacement starting in 2016.
The plan: As a “Select” bridge that is still in reasonably good condition, the government needs to do a better job of exploring alternatives to replacement. If the current bridge is too narrow — the usual excuse for demolition — then why not consider building a parallel bridge?

Remembering the fiasco from 2008, I was concerned. The Bascule needed repaired, and it was closed for three months? was it? This was to be a replacement and that was going to hurt a lot of folks. I emailed Allen Biehl, the District Deputy Director of ODOT’s District 3 and asked him to confirm or deny the above information. He replied with this email:


I was able to gather more detailed information regarding an upcoming project on the above noted bridge. As I expected, the bridge is not being replaced. The project scheduled and shown in NOACA’s Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) is to perform various maintenance repairs on the existing structure. The description on NOACA’s website is in error; and we are in the process of working with NOACA to have this description corrected on their webpage. I was somewhat suspicious, in that a total bridge replacement would have cost much more than the $3+ million dollars shown on NOACA’s document.

We have no plans to replace this structure in the foreseeable future; and this upcoming maintenance project will insure the bridges longevity. Attached, please find a preliminary Scope of Work that we anticipate on completing with the upcoming project. It is fairly self-explanatory; however, should you have any further questions regarding this project please feel free to contact me to discuss further.

Thank you for taking interest in the Department of Transportation’s infrastructure. We appreciate your reaching out to us for more information.



Here’s the info from the document he attached:

PID 92009 LOR 611-0344 Repair and Maintenance Recommendations

Caulk bottom corners of lower cord and top corners of lower cord at gusset plates

Replace modular exp.jt. at the forward abutment including the related work which includes replacing the end the deck, top of the abutment back wall, approach slab, sidewalk and guardrail.
Substructure repairs to concrete substructure units.

Spot paint select floor beam to truss connections and floor beam lower chords.

Repair R/W fence
Retaining wall replacement along the west side of the forward approach.

Slip Repair along the west side of the forward approach. (All work including sidewalk, guardrail, seeding and mulching.)

Pavement to restore areas disturbed by project
Wearing Surface repairs

Repair Hatches Replace the missing handles and hinge pins on the access hatches in the west sidewalk.

Sheathing repairs Reattach and/or replace loose and missing neoprene sheathing. The sheathing provides protection for the floor beams under the open joints.

Repair sidewalk pedestrian railing.

Seal deck and sidewalk concrete

So, no need for stress or hand-wringing or anything.

At least, we hope.


Bascule Bridge: Letters to ODOT

In our (seemingly) neverending quest to find out what’s going on with the Bascule Bridge; in our desire to find out when, except for this:

that this

will look like this again!


I wrote Brian Stacy, District 3 Public Information Officer for ODOT, a letter shortly after the last meeting (at City Hall). And I asked:

Mr. Stacy,

I attended the meeting at Lorain’s City Hall Friday, and was curious about something. Since ODOT is responsible for the bridge and its upkeep, doesn’t ODOT have blueprints/diagrams of the working parts of the bridge? Mr. Wright stated that when the older parts were removed, that “there were additional parts that were totally unforeseen.” Over the course of the years that ODOT has performed maintenance on the bridge, was he suggesting that ODOT isn’t as familiar with the mechanics of it as it probably should be? It almost sounds like he was saying that ODOT went into the project unawares of the workings of the bridge?

I’m just trying to understand, as there are a lot of folks looking to string someone up for the delays. I’d just like to get some info out there.


Mark Teleha

To which Brian Stacy replied,

Mr. Teleha,

Thank you again for contacting ODOT regarding the Charles Berry Bascule Bridge project, and for participating in Friday’s meeting. Thank you also for the additional information you provided in a separate email.

I appreciate your desire to simplify this situation and this project; however, this is a complex project with multiple issues and multiple entities working together in concert to get the project done as best as possible. ODOT is responsible for the bridge and does have plans from this and former projects to repair or maintain the bridge.

As has been noted, this bridge is 68-years-old and there are only five like it currently operating in the state of Ohio. This means that many of its parts and operations are much different than the other 42,000 bridges in Ohio. So, ODOT has brought in additional mechanical and electrical engineers who are familiar with this type of lift bridge to assist with specific elements of the project. ODOT is managing the project and overseeing the work of consultants Barr & Prevost, HNTB, and URS; as well as, the construction contractors Great Lakes Construction and Lake Erie Electric. All of these companies are working with ODOT to complete the maintenance and repair project.

During the work this summer, some unforeseen issues were identified and the necessary parts were ordered. ODOT’s first priority is get the bridge working again. We are also looking into where mistakes were made with this project and how they could have been avoided or prevented.


Brian Stacy
District 3 Public Information Officer
Ohio Department of Transportation
800-276-4188, ext. 207-7182

MJ Goofs On ODOT Delay

In today’s MJ, it reported that ODOT should have kept the bridge open while they waited for the parts. And they leave the option hanging like it was a brilliant, unconceived idea. What they neglected to report was the response from ODOT official, Ken Wright, the Planning and Production Administrator.

When asked why ODOT/the contractors didn’t have the replacement parts in hand when they removed the original, Wright replied,

“We thought we did. However, when we took it apart, …we didn’t replace, the part that came out, the exact same part did not go back in. The system is being upgraded. When we took Part A out, we were putting Part B in…When we took some of those parts out, we have found that there were some additional parts that were totally unforeseen. At that point, the bridge wasn’t going up and down, we couldn’t just put all of the old parts back in and make it go up and down. We had some of the new parts in, and there were some new parts that we needed that were not part of the contract. And those parts have been ordered.”

Rally for the Bascule – Reply from TPTB

As the videos upload, I received another reply to my letter to The Powers That Be.  Not to take anything away from the previous replies, but this one has just a bit more detail, and (I think) hasn’t been carbon-copied to other folks (but we’ll soon see). Although I did not state as such in the previous ‘Reply from TPTB’, many thanks to Brian Stacy, Sue Morano and Herman Rodrigo for taking the time to answer my inquiry. – mjt

Dear Mr. Teleha;

Thank you for your e-mail inquiry (included below) into the LOR-US 6 Bascule Bridge Project being undertaken by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is concerned about all transportation projects undertaken on federal-aid highways and funded with Federal-aid highway funds.

Since 1991, Federal highway legislation has allowed the delegation of project level responsibilities to States for actions in design, plans, specifications, estimates, contract awards, and inspections of projects. In situations such as this where ODOT has accepted the responsibility for project oversight through the exemptions provided in Federal law, ODOT acts on behalf of FHWA for project construction oversight and approvals.

As you stated in your e-mail, and we confirmed with ODOT, this state administered project is taking longer than ODOT had anticipated. We understand from the documentation available and our discussions with the ODOT District 3 office (who are administering the construction contract) that the work is progressing. Because of the specialty nature of the materials and work needed beyond what was identified in the construction contract, it is not possible to establish a final date for completion of the project. We can appreciate your frustration with the project delays and the information ODOT has provided to explain the causes for the delays. Although we cannot ascertain the accuracy of all information provided, we believe that ODOT’s intentions all along have been to try to provide the best information possible to the public and those directly affected by the project.

We are also concerned about the unanticipated construction impacts that have or could occur as a result of the project delays. This project was designed with an 80 day closure and now has taken considerably longer. The additional time impacts to the traveling public, adjacent land owners and other users of the highway facility are regrettable but not compensable through the construction project. We understand the impacts that signed detours can have on both the business climate and public perception. However, the nature of this bridge and its location over a navigable river preclude either maintaining traffic during construction or leaving the bridge “down” and open to vehicular traffic.

We agree with the ODOT position that the first priority is to return the bridge to a safe and functioning status. Because the construction contract has extended beyond contract time, FHWA expects ODOT to determine if the cause is contract error and omissions, contractor error, or a change in contract conditions and for ODOT to take appropriate action based on an analysis of the facts in this contract. In the meantime, ODOT is committed to working closely with its contractor to get the necessary bridge components replaced and the bridge reopened to traffic.

We trust that the above information is helpful in addressing some of your concerns. We encourage you to contact ODOT District 3 if you have additional concerns and for construction updates as they become available. The ODOT Public Information Officer is Mr. Brian Stacy and he can be reached at BRIAN.STACY@DOT.STATE.OH.US.. Additionally, there is ODOT information currently posted on the web site: http://www.dot.state.oh.us/districts/D03/Pages/default.aspx concerning the Charles Berry Bascule Bridge .

Herman Rodrigo

Director of Engineering and Operations

FHWA Ohio Division