Decline of the Bridge Rocky River Bridge, Rocky River Ohio

Complaints of traffic jams on the bridge began officially in 1930. The Lakewood Chamber of Commerce that year recommended that the span be widened to six lanes and that sidewalks be hung on steel "arms" outside the bridge. The plan was never carried out. Complaints in the press continued through subsequent decades, until traffic was somewhat eased in 1964 with the opening of the new Clifton-Westlake Bridge, crossing the Rocky River about a half mile to the north of the older structure. Periodic widening of the bridge approaches was also conducted in an attempt to ease rush-hour congestion.

Deterioration of deck concrete became a problem as early as 1954, caused by its saturation with the.salt used to clear the roadway of ice. (The arch ribs and piers were still, and are today, surprisingly sound.") Crumbling deck concrete remains a major problem, although wooden platforms constructed along the extrados of the main arch ribs prevent the chips from falling into the river and possibly injuring pleasure boaters below.

Alterations to the bridge during its 66-year history have been as follows:

In 1925 the south side of the west approach was widened. This involved the installation of a 50-foot span steel truss encased in concrete to carry the roadway and sidewalk which projected beyond the retaining walls. The north side of this approach was also widened, and reinforced-concrete retaining walls were added.

In 1932 the south side of the east approach was widened.

In 1936 the sidewalks were re-surfaced, new curb facing was installed, and the original railing was replaced with a new design of reinforced concrete with posts, top and bottom rails, and vertical spindles.

The streetcar rails were abandoned in 1938 with the demise of the Lake Shore Electric Railway. The rails remained and in 1943 the bridge and approaches were re-surfaced with asphaltic concrete.

In 1966-1967 the east approach was again widened, causing four Lakewood buildings to be razed. Loose and deteriorated concrete fragments were chipped away from the middle section of the bridge deck to alleviate danger to boaters.

Numerous steel plates have been inserted in the bridge deck to cover holes that have developed. Asphaltic concrete paving has been replaced over the plates.

In 1971 a four-ton load limit was put into effect and the outer two lanesv closed to traffic. That same year the Ohio Department of Highways recommended that the entire structure be removed and replaced.