CLEVELAND - The future of the I-90 pedestrian bridge in Cleveland's Collinwood neighborhood is very uncertain.
Cleveland lawmakers believe it's not clear if the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) will agree to replace the span, which plays a key role in linking south Collinwood residents with northeast shores Collinwood.
The bridge was severely damaged and had to be taken down Sunday, after a truck slammed into the span around 6:45 a.m. on March 9.
According to Cleveland police, the truck from Big Blue Trucking, out of Warren, was in the westbound lanes and crashed into a pedestrian bridge near East 177 Street. I-90 had to be closed for two days while crews removed tons of debris and wreckage.
Cleveland Councilman Michael Polensek estimates it will cost more than $5 million to replace the bridge, making it unclear if the bridge will be rebuilt.
"I don't know if this bridge can be reconstructed," said Polensek. "It's going to be up to the State of Ohio, obviously it's going to be a multi-million dollar project."
"We have a great deal of discussion ahead of us, but I'm confident we're going to accomplish something here."
Northeast Shores Executive Director, Brian Friedman, explained why the pedestrian bridge was a key piece of infrastructure in Cleveland's Collinwood neighborhood, even though it's been used by fewer residents over the past ten years.
"There are a number of people that live in south Collinwood that need access to services in northeast shores Collinwood," explained Friedman. "We need to figure out how to reconnect that, so our neighborhood is once again married."
Friedman also believes replacement of the pedestrian bridge is questionable, a situation that has numerous Collinwood walkers and bikers worried they'll lose that crossing.
Richard Otteni is a Collinwood cyclist who explained why more pedestrians would be forced to cross I-90 at East 185 Street, a scenario Otteni believes would put many in a hazardous situation.
"The cars are coming down East 185, so you're crossing the ramp, sometimes they slow down and sometimes they don't," said Otteni. "The pedestrian bridge helps quite a bit.
Councilman Polensek said no formal talks with ODOT, about the future of the bridge, have been scheduled as yet.
According to Cleveland police, the truck driver was apparently traveling with the trailer raised when his truck struck the bridge, causing serious damage.
Cleveland Police have identified the driver of the truck as 35-year-old Michael Edwards. He will be cited for all appropriate traffic violations by the Cleveland Division of Police. The Ohio State Highway Patrol responded as well for inspection of the vehicle.
Councilman Polensek made it clear the truck driver and his company need to be held responsible for the millions in damage.
"I hope they have good insurance," said Polensek. "This trucking company just bought a bridge to nowhere, quite frankly."