HNTB-designed Cleveland Innerbelt Bridge Honored during Dedication Ceremony

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State’s Largest Transportation Improvement Project Established Best Practices in Roadway Sustainability; Construction on the 4,347-Foot Interstate 90 Westbound Bridge Began in May 2011

While the design honors the steel bridge history in Cleveland, it’s immediately recognizable as a very modern, innovative design.

A dedication ceremony was held today on the new Cleveland Innerbelt Bridge — now officially known as the George V. Voinovich Bridge — which will carry more than 138,000 commuters each day across the Cuyahoga River and provides a vital link into downtown Cleveland. HNTB Corporation is lead designer for Walsh Construction which holds the contract for the project with the Ohio Department of Transportation. This new bridge will open to bi-directional traffic later this month.

This was the first major design-build project for ODOT. This project delivery method combines the design and construction of a project in to one competitively bid contract.

“Not only is this the largest transportation improvement in the state’s history, it is an incredibly complex one as well,” said Matt Hintze, HNTB president Great Lakes Division. “The Cleveland Innerbelt project is being delivered with collaboration among HNTB, Walsh Construction, ODOT, the City of Cleveland and many stakeholders. Using design-build as the project delivery method is a milestone for ODOT and a testament to HNTB’s talented staff and technical capabilities.”

The new bridge is the first step in the Cleveland Innerbelt Modernization Plan, focused on improving safety, reducing congestion and traffic delays, and modernizing interstate travel along I-71, I-77 and I-90 through downtown Cleveland. This investment by the State of Ohio will rehabilitate and reconstruct about 5 miles of interstate roadways and address operational, design, safety and access shortcomings that severely impact the ability of the Innerbelt Freeway system to meet the transportation needs of northeast Ohio.

From a design perspective, HNTB’s challenge was to create a bridge design that was scalable – with design elements that are visually powerful within the approach areas as well as when viewed from across the river.

HNTB’s delta-girder design was a clear winner with Cleveland residents during the proposal phase. “While the design honors the steel bridge history in Cleveland, it’s immediately recognizable as a very modern, innovative design,” said Ken Ishmael, PE, HNTB project manager. “It is an elegant bridge with clean lines, relating Cleveland’s old steel-bridge look to the steel bridges of tomorrow.”

Because the bridge is on a curve, no two girders are alike. That means each girder had a specific placement assigned to it, and no two girders were interchangeable.

There are inspection catwalks between each line of girders, which allow bridge inspectors to walk the entire length for inspections and visually examine the bridge steel. Ropes and rigging are not needed to perform necessary inspections, which represent a cost savings for ODOT.

In late 2012, the Federal Highway Administration selected the Cleveland Innerbelt Bridge project to pilot its Sustainable Highways Self-Evaluation Tool. One of just 17 projects selected nationwide, HNTB and Walsh worked with ODOT to evaluate the system, which will serve as a set of best practices and allow transportation officials to integrate green components into future road and bridge programs.

Monthly progress reports have been provided to FHWA regarding greenhouse gas emissions savings through the measures deployed in construction. These efforts saved 97,000 gallons of diesel fuel, recycled more than 5 million pounds of steel and conserved 22 million gallons of water. The Innerbelt Bridge project is the largest of all the pilot program sites and was one of the most successful, earning a Gold Rating. Additionally, it received an Environmental Excellence Award from FHWA.

After the westbound bridge is open to bi-directional traffic, the second step for the Cleveland Innerbelt project will be to remove the existing bridge and build the new eastbound bridge. HNTB was selected to assist ODOT in preparing the procurement documents for this next phase.

HNTB Corporation is an employee-owned infrastructure solutions firm serving public and private owners and construction contractors. With nearly a century of service, HNTB understands the life cycle of infrastructure and addresses clients’ most complex technical, financial and operational challenges. Professionals nationwide deliver a full range of infrastructure-related services, including award-winning planning, design, program delivery and construction management. For more information, visit

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John O'Connell
HNTB Corporation
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