Cleveland Innerbelt Modernization to Improve Safety and Update Interstate Travel
Communication Speeds Construction: Ohio DOT and Multiple Contractors Collaborate on Cleveland Innerbelt Modernization
The Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Cleveland Innerbelt Modernization Plan aims to reduce congestion, improve safety and update interstate travel through the city’s downtown. Currently, two projects are under way.
“The goal is to add a lane on Interstate 77 as it is approaching and exiting downtown Cleveland,” says David Lastovka, the Cleveland Innerbelt Corridor Project Manager for ODOT.
The entire Innerbelt plan includes seven sections. A study about replacing the Interstate 90 bridge over the Cuyahoga River bridge led to plans to replace the two bridges currently under construction. Both projects will add a lane in each direction on Interstate 77, bringing the total to six lanes on the new bridges. The projects were funded in different state fiscal years.
While 6A was let with a traditional bid-build contract, ODOT let the 6B project using a design-build delivery method to speed construction. Lastovka says it also helps bring innovation to the job.
“They take a little harder look at cost up front,” adds Scott Slack, Construction Project Manager for 6B. For instance, Kokosing Construction Co. of Westerville, Ohio, which holds the 6B contract, came up with jet grouting for a retaining wall, a first for ODOT.
Throughout the projects, ODOT has worked closely with the city and residents of the surrounding neighborhoods.
“I’m proud of our relationship with the local community and city,” Lastovka says.
Additionally, the contractors for both current projects are collaborating with each other and ODOT officials.
“We’ve worked hard together to make traffic patterns and schedules work,” says Jackie Guttman, Assistant Superintendent for The Ruhlin Co. of Sharon Center, Ohio, the contractor for 6A. “We have open lines of communication.”
I-77 Over I-490 (6A)
Richland Engineering of Mansfield, Ohio, designed the 6A section. The Ruhlin Co., received the $25.6 million contract to rebuild the north and southbound I-77 bridges over Interstate 490. The bridges, which were built in the 1950s, had created an hourglass effect for I-77 traffic, which decreased from three lanes to two lanes on the bridge. Construction started in October 2017, and work is progressing through the winter, except when temperatures drop below 10 degrees.
“The biggest challenge is working around the traffic,” Guttman says. “We have done a good job of not impacting the traveling public and closing the road the least amount as possible.”
Ruhlin is rebuilding the bridge a half at a time, starting with the outside lanes in 2018, and then shifting the traffic outwards. In 2018-2019, the company is rebuilding the interior lanes. The new structure is about 6 feet taller than the old bridge to allow room for future projects on interstate ramps below the bridge and meet current standards for vertical clearances. The bridge is the top level of a four-level interchange. Crews also are building 700 feet of approach on each side.
“It’s a challenging project, and maintenance of traffic is most challenging,” says Robert Wallace, Construction Project Manager for 6A for ODOT.
Another challenge has been the tight site. Ruhlin brought in some smaller equipment to avoid closures.
A series of 16-inch pipe friction piles support the bridge. Ruhlin learned during a dynamic test that the piles were not reaching the specified bearing capacity, so crews had to wait until all of the piles reached their bearing capacity, about three weeks. At one pier, the piles had to be extended 40 feet, reaching a depth of 95 feet in the silty sand. That required bringing in larger equipment.
Other pile locations in sandier soils reached depths of 45 feet to 55 feet. Pile driving continues in the winter.
Ruhlin used a 500-ton Terex hydraulic crane on large tires and set up on outriggers on I-490 to lift the 81-inch web steel girders to the bridge.
The steel girders on the bridge have been metalized, with a thermal coating sprayed onto the steel to protect it from corrosion. The outer girders were painted for aesthetic reasons.
Ruhlin has used a surveyor’s drone to determine earthwork quantities. The company also uses GPS on its dozers. Guttman uses AutoCAD to plan pile driving and steel erection tasks.
The company’s safety record has been good, Guttman proudly proclaims. Ruhlin uses a safety program to track issues and meets weekly to discuss upcoming hazards. “Safety is our company culture,” Guttman adds.
Completion of 6A is scheduled for October 2019.
Broadway Avenue Over I-77 (6B)
The 6B project, replacing the Broadway Avenue bridge over I-77, includes construction of a new southbound frontage road, which will become an entrance to I-77 at Pershing.
“It needed to be longer for the lanes to fit underneath it,” Lastovka says.
Kokosing Construction received the $28.9 million 6B design-build contract and began construction in summer 2017. E.L. Robinson Engineering of Columbus, Ohio, serves as the design partner. Work includeddemolishing the existing bridge. Traffic is redirected.
“We are changing the geometry on the ramps from I-490 southbound onto I-77,” Slack says. “It was a tough merge.”
The frontage road will be elevated above the interstate on an embankment held up by mechanically stabilized earth retaining walls. Crews brought in sand for the walls and used some existing materials.
“We backfilled with sand and straps,” Slack says. “We’re up at near the elevation of the Broadway bridge.”
Construction of the bridge required coordination of relocation of utility lines. The gas company was able to move its lines off of the bridge and place them underground.
The design-build team came up with post-tensioned concrete beams to deal with the bridge’s 63-degree skew from the highway.
“Sixty-three degrees is a heavy skew and required a lot of thought from the designers,” Slack says.
The bridge is 394 feet long and has two spans with a center pier in the median of I-77. The maximum span is 221 feet, 8 inches.
Kokosing offloaded the beams at an adjacent state owned lot. The beams could be hauled to the bridge site during daylight hours on the weekends.
The new bridge’s 24 post-tensioned concrete beam sections weigh 210,000 pounds each. They are set in eight rows of three beams. Crews completed a closure pour of concrete from above between the 9.5-foot tall beams.
Kokosing Construction built a flat sand platform for the oversizedcrane needed to lift the beams into place. It has limited mobility in the confined space. The interstate was closed on two weekends when crews lifted the beams into place.
On the northwest side of the new bridge, Kokosing Construction elected a jet-grouted retaining wall. Crews injected wet cement into the surrounding dirt to created hardened masses of soil to avoid impact to an existing deep sanitary sewer.
“It creates a hardened earth retaining wall,” Slack explains. “There was a concern over vibration with a traditional retaining wall. The jet-grouted retaining wall was out-of-the-box thinking by the designer.”
The project remains on schedule.
A $293.6 million replacement of the Westbound Bridge on Interstate 90 was completed in 2015. The $280 million Eastbound Bridge was finished in 2018.
Looking forward, construction contract group 3, the Central Interchange on I-90 east- and westbound, is under design. The project is not yet fully funded for construction. It is planned to be a traditional design-bid-build project. Construction contract group 7A, a deceleration lane on the Interstate 71 exit ramp to southbound SR 176, is also under design and is funded for construction in state fiscal year 2020.
Three projects have not been funded at this time. Construction contract group 4, the Innerbelt Curve, is scheduled for 2024. Construction contract group 5, the Innerbelt Trench, will replace four bridges over I-90 and reconstruct I-90 east- and westbound in the Innerbelt Trench. It is estimated to start in 2029. Construction contract group 7, Interstate 71 Improvements, will replace bridge decks and pavement is this area of the project.
- Owner: Ohio Department of Transportation
- 6A Designer: Richland Engineering, Mansfield, Ohio
- 6A Contractor: The Ruhlin Co., Sharon Center, Ohio
- 6B Design-Build Team: Kokosing Construction Co., Westerville, Ohio, and E.L. Robinson Engineering, Columbus, Ohio