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Mahoning County Bridge Receives Award
By John E. Alexandrou, P.E., Transportation Department Manager CT Consultants, Inc.

The Cemetery Bridge (White Bridge) over Yellow Creek in the Village of Poland recently received the Outstanding Rehabilitated Bridge Award from the Association for Bridge Construction and Design. Honored were Richard A. Marsico, P.E., P.S., Mahoning County Engineer, John E. Alexandrou, P.E., Transportation Department Manager for CT Consultants, Inc., Soda Construction Company and the Village of Poland.

This single span, bowstring arch bridge, with truss elements, was constructed in 1877 by the renowned Wrought Iron Bridge Company from Canton, Ohio. The bridge carried vehicular traffic over Yellow Creek in the Village of Poland until its closure in 1984. The "Historic American Engineering Record" prepared by Frances A. Jones for the National Park Service states that the Cemetery Bridge "is the only known example in Ohio of William Rener's patented
oval wrought iron tubular arch design. Only two examples are known to exist in the United States . . ." The bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

The existing bridge deck is 126'-7" long x 18'-2" wide between two wrought iron arches. The arches are composed of two semi-elliptical sections, riveted to a flat plate. The lower chords are composed of a pair of continuous plates (suspended from the arches with star-shaped vertical tension hanger rods) which support the floor system. There are fourteen panels between arches and bottom chords, of which twelve are crossed by two diagonal rods. Unique cast iron saddles are in place for connecting the hanger rods and diagonals between the arches and bottom chord plates. The lower chord plates taper down into threaded rods at their extreme ends as they pass through a patented cast iron bearing shoe. The shoe also receives the end of the arch section. The floor system is composed of six longitudinal rolled beam stringers which bear on thirteen king-posted floor beams. Lateral bracing rods, in the plane of the bottom chords, are attached to the ends of the floor beams. The stringers support galvanized steel floor pans filled with asphalt. Above the deck, overhead bracing is at three panel points consisting of angles spanning between arches and diagonal bracing rods with an x-pattern between. The bearing shoes and stringers are supported by the original sandstone abutments constructed in 1877.

Upon the closure of the bridge, a committee of citizens from the Village of Poland began working with the Mahoning County Engineer's office and the Ohio Historical Society to initiate an historic restoration of the structure.

CT Consultants, Inc. performed an in-depth visual inspection of the Cemetery Bridge between November 8 and November 17, 1995. All members were field measured for use in the rating analysis calculations. The following major deficiencies were found:

  • The stringers were in critical condition. Holes through their webs warranted total replacement;
  • The king-post tension rods had significant necking at their connection with the floor beams (generally 50% to 60% section loss). Floor beam 12 had one rod missing;
  • Lateral bracing rods, in the plane of the arch lower chord, had necking at their connection to the floor beams (about 33% section loss);
  • The diagonal tension rods in the truss arch were in critical condition due to necking at the lower connection points (generally 40% to 67% section loss);
  • Several cast iron saddles on the arches were cracked;
  • The sandstone subgrade supporting the east abutment was highly jointed. Weathering resulted in dislocation of the rock an average of 12" behind the face of abutment and 18" under the bottom course of sandstone blocks.

The rating analysis determined major steel replacement was needed for the bridge to be re-opened for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The following items were incorporated into the rehabilitation plans:

  • Total deck surface replacement with 3" x 6" plank wood floor (wolmanized southern yellow pine).
  • Replacement of six stringers with six continuous W10 x 12 stringers.
  • Total replacement of 26 floor beam king-post rods with new 1" diameter A36 steel rods.
  • Replacement of 15 one inch diameter diagonal rods and 11 U-bolts at the rod intersections.
  • Replacement of two king-post struts.
  • Replacement of five saddles at the connections of the diagonal elements to the arch. Replacement of four saddles at the connection of the vertical element to the arch.
  • Replacement of 17 saddles bearing on the lower chord plates for the vertical tension hanger connections to the lower chords.
  • Miscellaneous repairs to wrought-iron superstructure elements.
  • Removal of pack rust, sandblasting and field painting of all new and existing superstructure steel.
  • Removal of existing W-beam guardrail from the bridge and replacing it with 2-1/2" I.D. pipe railing connected to the arch verticals with U-bolts. Rail to conform to AASHTO pedestrian rail requirements.
  • Refurbishing the existing sandstone block abutments including repointing the mortar joints, capping the blocks with a reinforced concrete seat and backwalls, and constructing a reinforced concrete fill to repair undermining of the forward abutment.

The completed plans were submitted to the Ohio Historical Society. Their comments assured that the historically unique aspects of the structure would be saved for future generations.

With a federal grant from the ISTEA Transportation Enhancement Fund, the Cemetery Road Bridge Restoration was undertaken in 1999 by ODOT, the Mahoning County Engineer and the Village of Poland.

Soda Construction from Niles, Ohio began the restoration in August and completed the project in November.

At a ribbon cutting ceremony on November 18, 1999 ownership of the Cemetery Bridge was transferred from Mahoning County to the Village of Poland.

John E. Alexandrou, P.E.
Transportation Department Manger
CT Consultants, Inc.

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