A Bridge too far UP-( the Yin-Yang) ODOT Stacy and Schon

November 6, 2008 at 3:45 pm 12 comments



The following appears with permission of Mr. Schon and his correspondence with Mr. Stacey

From: “Brian.Stacy@dot.state.oh.us”
William Schon
Cc: Jane.Hedge@dot.state.oh.us; John.Hart@dot.state.oh.us; Ken.Wright@dot.state.oh.us; Valerie.Kilmer@dot.state.oh.us; Tim.Farley@dot.state.oh.us
Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 3:04:08 PM
Subject: Charles Berry Bascule Bridge

Dear Mr. Schon,

Thank you for your recent email to Governor Strickland regarding the Charles Berry Bascule Bridge in the City of Lorain. Your email has been forwarded to me for a reply.

As you may have seen recently in the news, a lot has transpired with this project since your original email and ODOT has since produced a special website with project information to help explain much of what you have asked. It can be found at: http://www.dot.state.oh.us/districts/D03/Pages/LOR-6-967_Charles_Berry_Bascule_Bridge_Project.aspx

In August, two components were identified as being needed to complete the project and get the bridge operational – one for the braking system and one related to the drive controllers. The uniqueness of this bridge, there are only five like it in Ohio, is the reason these parts are being specially manufactured. The power supply cabinets for the bridge’s braking systems arrived last week and are being installed by the contractor. The other parts, known as signal conditioners, help communicate information between the new drive controllers and the existing consoles in the bridge towers. The signal conditioners are expected to arrive soon.

Once all the parts arrive and are installed, the contractor will make sure everything works together properly and determine when the bridge is operationally sound and safe for motorists. We don’t have a definitive date for the bridge’s opening, but the current estimate is some time in November. When we have a more definitive date, we will provide this information on our website and announce it to the public via the news media.

Finally, according to ODOT records, major repairs have been done to this bridge every ten years — in 2008, 1998, and 1988. During the 1998 work, the bridge was closed for scheduled repairs for approximately two months. We have also identified a more recent emergency repair that caused the bridge to be closed for a few days, but we have not been able to find anything to confirm the 12-month closure you identified in your email.


Brian Stacy
District 3 Public Information Officer
Ohio Department of Transportation
800-276-4188, ext. 207-7182

Motorists reminded: Ice and Snow…Take It Slow

ED NOTE WE can’t take it otherwise “take it slow” ODOT reminds us everday of how SLOW things are!!!! In fact we are so slow we are stopped dead in our tracks crossing the river but then again maybe if the Black River freezes we can finally get across.

Mr. Schon’s response :

To: Brian.Stacy@dot.state.oh.us
Cc: Jane.Hedge@dot.state.oh.us; John.Hart@dot.state.oh.us; Ken.Wright@dot.state.oh.us; Valerie.Kilmer@dot.state.oh.us; Tim.Farley@dot.state.oh.us
Sent: Wednesday, November 5, 2008 9:44:42 PM
Subject: Re: Charles Berry Bascule Bridge

Dear Mr. Stacy, Thank you for personally replying to my letter from earlier this year. I appreciate that you have done some investigating into previous ODOT run projects done to the Bascule Bridge in Lorain.

That may be more homework than was done in preparation for this project. The long term closure event I am recalling may have occurred prior to ODOT taking over supervision of major projects on that structure. The Engineers office of Lorain County must have been handling the one that I, and several of my fellow Lorain resident’s recall. A history lesson is not worthy of our time in this case.

What I am greatly concerned with is the complete and total lack of preparation and understanding of this current project itself. I have worked in the chemical industry for 30+ years and have been very closely involved with many projects of much greater complexity than the simple refurbishing of a handful of parts and a data interface on a stationary structure. Each and every one of those projects was mapped out in great detail and ALL parts needed were on site at the exact time they were needed. The homework had been done, the structures and wiring were all well documented and reviewed for accuracy. There was a project deadline and if the deadline was not met, there was hell to pay in no small way I might add.

The ODOT run bridge project has been flawed from the beginning in my opinion. This is a MAIN artery of traffic for the City of Lorain. It should NEVER be closed for more than a few days. Crews should be working 24 hours per day, 7 days per week at the very least. The parts replacement task should be treated like a NASCAR pit stop. All the mechanicals should be swapped out for the new ones as fast as humanly possible. The data interface and computer systems should have all been simulated OFF LINE prior to their installation to debug any obvious communications problems. The fact that a problem was found with the computer interface and electrical system, well AFTER the original completion date, is completely inexcusable. My company changes out hardware and software for global computer and data systems in less than 18 hours.

How do they do that you ask??? THEY UNDERSTAND THEIR SYSTEMS AND HAVE DONE THEIR HOMEWORK!!! This concept seems to have evaded the engineering contingent responsible for the Lorain bridge project. The lack of preparation in advance and subsequent lack of urgency to fix this problem is absolutely skewering the City of Lorain.

My guess is that you don’t live here so you have no idea of the pain and economic suffering this continues to cause an already beleaguered city.

For God’s sake, The Dairy Queen store that I worked at as a kid, that was successfully in business for over 50 years (not the 35 reported by the local newspaper) has closed and it is all the fault of this project. Period! That is completely unacceptable and everyone of you should be ashamed of your actions and responses in this matter.

My prayers in this matter are for…

1. A very swift completion of whatever needs to be done to get the bridge functioning safely again. Get on with it already!!!

2. That the contractor or engineering firm with ultimate responsibility for this debacle be banned for all eternity from bidding on any ODOT project in the entire State of Ohio. I would never wish this level of agony on any of my fellow Ohioans. Their negligence and incompetence are unparalleled. They should have any engineering licenses and privileges permanently revoked.

3. That any future bridge mechanical projects that require the bridge to be closed, be done in the months of January and February. The bridge NEVER opens during those months due to Ice on the Great Lakes. And ALL shipping companies could be advised of such a closure well in advance and could plan accordingly. This is what I am talking about…HOMEWORK! I will bet you had no idea that the bridge NEVER, EVER opens during those months.

4. ANY other projects, such as painting, be limited to one week for completion. No exceptions. Bring in as many men as needed to get it done.

5. That all travelers on the detours around the Bascule arrive at their destinations safely. It would be quite a tragedy if someone were to be seriously injured or worse because they were still having to use the detour in bad winter weather.

I am sure you are aware that they demolished and completely rebuilt an entire multi-lane, Interstate system bridge over the Mississippi river, IN MINNESOTA where winter is a lot more brutal than Lorain, Ohio, in 13 months. The entire project in 13 months! And UNDER BUDGET!

I just drove by the open bridge this evening. I believe we are coming up on 6 months since the inception of incompetence in Lorain. That’s just swell! In closing, I respectfully ask that you carefully consider the consequences of any future extended closures to this Bascule Bridge structure in Lorain. Please don’t drive the dagger into the heart of this town any deeper. We have suffered long and often enough with that thing. If you ever replace it, please build us a tunnel!!!

Sincerely,William J. Schon -Life Long Lorain resident


Entry filed under: city of lorain, commentary, notorious opponents of exactitude.

Firefighter John Volak- Fundraiser- Nov 9th ODOT LETTERS ( and the beat goes ON- even if the traffic doesn’t)

12 Comments Add your own

  • […] Loraine has correspondence to ODOT here. […]

  • […] For the latest communication on the bridge matter, check out That Woman’s Weblog.  Things just aren’t happening.  Please, Governor Strickland, involve yourself in this matter long enough to get speedier results. […]

  • 4. Mark  |  November 6, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    That’s cool!!!

    Kudos to Mike!

    I’ll bet his bridge goes up and down!!

  • 5. Rona  |  November 7, 2008 at 2:04 am

    Check out this couple’s Halloween costume!

  • 6. Buster's Momma  |  November 7, 2008 at 2:05 am

    A standing ovation ! ! for Mr. Schon’s well-written response to a form letter that most, if not all, of us who have written to ODOT have gotten.

    Great pic, too!

  • 7. muley  |  November 7, 2008 at 5:31 am

    …….once again, I hold my bic up high to Mike. Bravo!!!

  • 8. Eastsider M  |  November 7, 2008 at 12:44 pm


  • 9. Bill Sturgill  |  November 7, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Very good response. Too the point. Bad planning on their part should never result in an emergency on ours. I really like that tunnel idea!

  • 10. muley  |  November 7, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    …..I like the idea of a tunnel also, but let’s not get too far ahead of the game plan, fix the bridge first. There will be a future generation of ODOT planners and engineers to plan a tunnel, this generation can not handle something that is in the “planning” stages

  • 11. Loraine Ritchey  |  November 7, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Thank you everyone for stopping by I will make sure Mr. Schon is aware of all your comments. I was at a breakfast meeting last week where the subject of course came up …..the question posed if this bridge was in Bay Village, Westlake or Avon would this be happening or “non happening”….. ???????

  • […] 7, 2008 by muley Talk is heating up again about the lack of work being done on the Charles Barry Bascule Bridge that crosses the Black […]

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