The Cuyahoga County Department of Public Works is holding a virtual open house to solicit public input in the initial design stage of the long-awaited $3.8 million North Main Street Bridge “rehabilitation” project in Chagrin Falls facilitated through the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The new venture replaces a 2015 plan to restore the bridge through “adaptive reuse” standards, which proved to be too costly for the funds available, officials said. Last year, a single bid was submitted for the original plan coming in at twice the estimated cost. The two-span stone arch bridge was constructed in 1857 adjacent in downtown Chagrin Falls over the Chagrin River.

That bid was rejected and a re-review of the original three bridge restoration alternative began. Last month Cuyahoga County officials announced that they completed a review and decided on an alternative plan that would “rehabilitate” the bridge at a lower cost.

The alternative will be formally presented in a series of public hearings before being finalized. The first of these hearings has not yet been announced.

The new proposal includes:

• Lining the existing stone barrel arches with precast concrete segments.

• Encasing the sandstone piers and headwalls with concrete.

• Replacing the existing cantilevered sidewalks.

• Trading current lattice railings for safety standard metal railing described as “decorative.”

• Refacing existing retaining walls on both sides of the Chagrin River.

The estimated $3.8 million construction would be covered with 80 percent from federal funding and 20 percent through ODOT’s Local Bridge Program.

Temporary right-of-way will be required for construction. There are two parks within the project area – Riverside Park and Bell Street Park. Two-way traffic will be maintained during construction but a parking lane will be sacrificed to accommodate this.

Adjacent Bell Street park, a small portion of Riverside Park and top landing of the Stairway to the Falls are designated “study areas” and could be used as staging areas.

It is anticipated that the design phase will be concluded in the summer of 2022 and the project advertised for bid the following fall with construction starting in late June 2023 to accommodate the Blossom Time and Art by the Falls festivals held in late May and early June. The bridge would reopen in the fall of 2024.

This phase of design and planning will be open for public comment until March 5. For information on the bridge project and how to participate in offering input, visit the Virtual Open House Website at https://publicinput.com/A2814.

In tandem with this, ODOT is conducting the environmental review and historical preservation feedback components of the project. Visit https://www.transportation.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odot/projects/projects/96956 for more information.

A veteran reporter and columnist, Barbara Christian has been covering Chagrin Falls since 1967 and is currently responsible for Chagrin Falls village events, government and school board news along with her weekly column "Window on Main Street."

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