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Historic bridge gets new life with help from OSU Engineering students

OSU engineering students helped determine why cables that held up the suspension bridge over Alum Creek near Wolfe Park snapped in 2015, closing it for more than a year. (WSYX/WTTE)

OSU Engineering professor and director of the Fontana Corrosion Center Jerry Frankel says when he rides his bike across the new suspension bridge over Alum Creek near Wolfe Park, he does it with extra pride. That's because a group of his OSU engineering students helped determine why cables that held up the bridge snapped in 2015, closing it for more than a year.

Frankel says while a new deck and pillars were added in 2013, the original steel cables that held the original bridge were never replaced. Frankel says he thinks the weight of the new bridge was too heavy for the cables which snapped, causing the bridge to tip on it's side. That bridge opened again earlier this month, now complete with new cables that are anchored in concrete slabs as opposed to the original which were underground when the bridge was constructed in 1922.

City leaders worked with Frankel's OSU engineering students who determined that the original steel had become brittle causing the cables to snap.

"They most likely whipped back and it would have been very dangerous," Frankel said.

While the city held regular inspections on the bridge, Frankel feels they didn't reveal all the problems.

"We think they didn't inspect all the way down to the bottom where they might have evidence of degradation," Frankel said.

City leaders say they shelled out nearly $500,000 for the new bridge deck and now all new steel cables to hold the bridge in place.

They say that the bridge will be inspected each year to make sure it remains safe for the thousands of people who walk, run and bike across it every year.

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