ROCKY RIVER, Ohio - Walking along the Metropark bike path beneath the Hilliard Road bridge, which connects Lakewood to Rocky River, is one of Alina Valentine's favorite places to be with her dog.
Dodging falling concrete from the bridge is not something she enjoys, so she quickly follows the path into the sunshine along the Rocky River's shore. She's seen workers there on occasion, but without discernible progress.
"For several days, I couldn't walk through because the park was closed in this section, ostensibly for fixing the bridge. That's what I was told because they were not letting me through," Valentine said. "But, it looks the same as ever."
Director of Cuyahoga County Public Works Bonnie Teeuwen said crews were there in the fall assessing damage. A three-part plan of re-inspection, debris netting being installed, and hiring consultants for the next phase of bridge renovation will be soon.
Some of the dangerous, loose concrete from the bridge's high arches had been chipped away by county workers to prevent it from falling on vehicles and pedestrians underneath.
"Most of the debris seen under the bridge slid off the piers under the bridge to the ground," Teeuwen said.
The concrete chunks under those piers on the west side of the Rocky River were several inches in diameter, some weighing in excess of 30 pounds. Teeuwen is sure the debris netting, set to be installed by July at a cost to the county of $200,000, will relieve Metropark visitors' worries.
"The concrete that's outside the rebar cage is for aesthetics only. It's not for the strength of the bridge, so you may have a bridge that looks really ugly and had rebar that is exposed, but it's still structurally sound, so we have to keep that in mind," Teeuwen said.
That's little consolation to Rene Fuentes, who moved here from Annapolis, Maryland with his large family. He loves to fish near the near bridge, but stays under the Interstate 90 bridge that is directly next to the Hilliard Road bridge. He's seen 10 years of little progress on the bridge's falling concrete fascia and facade, so he keeps his family clear.
"Those are some huge chunks of concrete over there; they could land on your head. I won't go underneath there, it's too dangerous," Fuentes said.
Warning signs for passersby may be installed soon to literally give visitors a heads-up. Access to a parking area near the bridge was fenced off Thursday, keeping parked cars at a clear distance too.
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