Grade Separation of West 73rd Street and Norfolk Southern railroad in Cleveland Provides Connectivity for Future Generations

August 31, 2016

Michael Baker International’s Roadway Grade Separation Design Connects Cleveland Community to Lake Erie Waterfront

The Michael Baker International team in Cleveland, in partnership with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Great Lakes Construction, received several honors recently for an innovative project that applied a multimodal design to enhance neighborhood connectivity. The $24 million project for ODOT used a top-down construction approach to grade separate West 73rd Street and Norfolk Southern Railroad, extend the West 73rd Street roadway and improve connections between a west side neighborhood of the city to West Shoreway and Edgewater Park.

The team’s efforts on the project have garnered recent awards from the Association for Bridge Construction and Design (ABCD), American Society of Highway Engineers (ASHE) Lake Erie Section, Ohio Contractors Association (OCA) and Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO).
After bridge completion in June 2015, West 73rd was excavated beneath the structure.

The project focused on the grade separation and extension of West 73rd Street under the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks along the Cleveland Memorial Shoreway to connect with existing access to Edgewater Park and to provide access from the neighborhood to Lake Erie. Along with a new roadway to carry vehicles, the project also included new bike and pedestrian facilities, lighting and landscaping. The roadway extension represents phase two of the three-phase Lakefront West project to rehabilitate the community’s lakefront and create multi-modal connections along the West Shoreway.

“This project gave our team a great opportunity to find unique solutions and use innovative techniques in building a system that would connect and engage the community,” said Kirsten Bowen, highway manager at Michael Baker’s Cleveland office. “Michael Baker is proud to be a part of this project and of the recognition it has received for ODOT and the City of Cleveland. This work truly exemplifies that ‘We Make a Difference’ in all that we do for the communities we serve.”
City Architecture’s rendering of the completed project

The project began with the relocation of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) Westerly Interceptor Sewer, while still maintaining functionality of the system for residents. Crews then used a top-down construction technique to build a bridge for Norfolk Southern railroad over the new West 73rd Street extension. Additionally, the design of the project was developed to minimal impact to the public during construction.

A partnering approach was embraced by all team members on the project to develop solutions that provided value to the project and stakeholders. Value was defined as time savings to minimize the impact to the local residents and was provided to all stakeholders by minimizing multiple utility, weather and third party delays that, left unresolved, had the extreme potential to delay the project resulting in extending an already-long construction schedule and increasing fixed construction costs. The projects team’s ability to define value and leverage their individual strengths  greatly contributed to the project success and to making the best decisions possible based on the needs of the project stakeholders.
Planning on the project began in 2006 as part of the overall Lakefront West Corridor Preliminary Engineering Study.  Final design for the grade separation was completed and construction began in 2013. The project was opened to train traffic in July 2015 and road traffic in December 2015. Michael Baker served as project manager and lead designers throughout the Lakefront West rehabilitation project.