Community members have until Saturday to comment on a proposed $34.5 million plan to replace the 97-year-old Hilliard Road Bridge over the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation.

Plans call for razing the existing bridge and replacing it with a five-span, open-spandrel arch bridge. The bridge roadway will be reduced from four to two lanes to accommodate a bike/hike lane that will be added along the bridge’s south side.

Open-spandrel arches have columns resting on the arch ring that support floor beams, which in turn support the road.

The project will also reconfigure the intersection of Hilliard and South Marginal roads and Riverside Drive by adding a roundabout that will remove the left-turn lane onto Riverside.

The comment opportunity is part of the online public input period that Cuyahoga County and the Ohio Department of Transportation opened in mid-December. The purpose is to share information from previous public comment sessions.

Initially, the study favored a haunched girder bridge due to its cost-effectiveness. Deck haunches are commonly used on both prestressed concrete and structural steel girder bridges. The haunch is the area between the top of a bridge girder and the bottom of the concrete deck. However, public feedback was negative. Commenters wanted an arch-type and/or historic bridge design.

“Rocky River, Lakewood and the Cleveland Metroparks are all stakeholders,” said Rich Snyder, public safety service director for Rocky River. “The bridge is a historical piece within not only the connecting communities but also the region. You don’t see architecture like that anymore.”

Snyder, serving as a liaison from the city on the project, said the county worked with engineers to cost-effectively merge community wishes into the plans.

“They factored in a traffic analysis to determine the traffic usage for the bridge and for the intersection with Riverside on the east and Valley View on the west,” Snyder said. “They determined that with a roundabout on the east side we would be able to reduce the overall width of the bridge.”

Work is expected to start in 2024.

Engineers determined the bridge would need to be rebuilt rather than rehabilitated because of its decay. For several years netting along the underbelly of the 1925 bridge has protected pedestrians, bicyclists and cars in the Rocky River Reservation from falling concrete and debris.

Razing the bridge will result in traffic adjustments until the new one is built, but safety forces from both Lakewood and Rocky River were informed of the potential issues, Snyder said.

The project fits into Rocky River’s 2018 master plan that called for reducing the width of Hilliard Boulevard and connecting to the Metroparks, according to Rocky River Mayor Pam Bobst.

Bobst said the narrowing would allow space for a multi-use trail on the south side of the bridge.

This trail would then tie into a trail on Rocky River Drive and hook into improvements on Hogsback Lane, which leads into the Rocky River Reservation, Bobst said.

This project would follow the bridge construction, she said.

Most traffic will be diverted to the Detroit, Lorain and I-90 bridges for safety forces, Bobst said

Comments can be submitted online at the project’s site by clicking through blue tabs that hold all the information for the project from the previous meeting.

Visit https://publicinput.com/O8043#4 to submit. Comments may also be submitted by emailing Susan Daniels at sdaniels@lawhon-assoc.com, calling Daniels at 614-481-8600 ext. 134 or mailing a comment form, which can be downloaded from the site.

Letters should be addressed to Lawhon & Associates Attn: Susan Daniels 1441 King Ave. Columbus, Ohio 43212.

Contact this reporter at mmacarthur@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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