Terminal Subway
for the
Detroit-Superior Bridge


A Report of the
Committee on Municipal Art and Architecture
The Cleveland Chamber of Commerce



Approved by the Board of Directors
September 7, 1915


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To the Board of Directors of
The Cleveland Chamber of Commerce:

Gentlemen: During the course of construction of the Detroit Superior high level bridge objections have been raised against the proposed plan providing surface accommodations at the approaches for the street and interurban railway tracks crossing the bridge. The committee on municipal art and architecture has accordingly undertaken a study of this important matter with a view to recommending, and securing the adoption of, an adequate plan. Various suggestions have been received and carefully analyzed by the committee. Whatever may be the individual advantages of the plans so considered, but one plan, namely that devised by Mr. W.A.Stinchcomb, the county engineer, has the committee's enthusiastic support.

This report, then, aims only to set forth the objections to the proposed plan of surface approaches for the street and interurban tracks crossing the bridge and the arguments in favor of altering this plan in accordance with proposals made by Mr.Stinchcomb. The committee wishes particularly to acknowledge the helpful co-operation of the county commissioners and Mr. Stinchcomb, who have aided the inquiry by placing at the committee's disposal all their maps, plans and data.


The Detroit-Superior Bridge, connecting Superior Avenue on the East Side of the Cuyahoga River with intersection of Detroit Avenue and West 25th Street on the West Side, is double decked. The lower deck will carry four tracks for street and interurban cars, sufficient room remaining for the subsequent addition, when necessary, of two tracks for subway cars, one track to be placed on each side of the strip occupied by surface car tracks. The upper deck will be used by all other vehicles and by pedestrians. According to the bridge plan surface car tracks will enter at each end of the bridge at the level of the upper deck, descending therefrom through open wells by a gentle grade to the lower deck as they approach the center of the span. This requires the insertion in the upper deck roadway of a well, dimensions 45 by 300 feet, near each end of the bridge. In order to provide for the wells the upper deck roadway, which is to be forty-five feet wide in the bridge proper, will divided into two twenty-foot roadways at the points where the wells are inserted, the bridge itself being widened considerably at these points; and here also the fifteen-foot sidewalks on the upper deck will be reduced to ten feet in width.


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As a substitute for the plan of surface approaches the county engineer, Mr. Stinchcomb, recommends that the four street and interurban railway tracks which are to cross the bridge utilize only the lower bridge deck and that they be placed in short subways at both bridge terminals, emerging to the street grade at nearby points removed from the congested areas at the bridge approaches. At the Superior Avenue end the tracks would then emerge at a point west of West 6th Street. At the Detroit Avenue end the tracks would be carried in two subways, under Detroit Avenue and West 25th Street respectively, each subway accommodating two tracks. The Detroit Avenue subway, in accordance with this plan, would extend to a point beyond West 29th Street, and the West 25th Street subway, to a point beyond Church Avenue. The estimated width of the wells through which the cars would emerge from the subways to the street surface would be forty-three feet in Superior Avenue; twenty-four feet in Detroit Avenue; and twenty-four feet in West 25th Street. The Superior Avenue subway well opening would extend from the east line of West 9th Street to a point two car's length west of West 6th street, the tracks continuing east from that point at the street grade. The length of the Detroit Avenue and West 25th Street subway wells would be approximately the same as that of the Superior Avenue well.

The county engineer's plan requires the widening to ninety-five feet of Detroit Avenue from West 28th Street to West 29th Street, and also the widening to one hundred and fifteen feet of West 25th street from the bridge to Franklin Avenue. The work necessary for such widening would be done on the north side of Detroit Avenue and on the East Side of West 25th Street. Provision is also made for reducing the width of Superior Avenue sidewalks two and one-half feet, making them eighteen and one-half feet wide and giving a clear roadway of twenty-eight feet on each side of the well, between the well and the curb.

Notwithstanding the many great advantages of the proposed terminal subway plan the fact that it requires the construction of a large well in Superior Avenue is admittedly unfortunate. A substitute plan has been suggested whereby eastbound bridge cars would continue underground to the Public Square, returning to the bridge by way of a subway loop. The Superior Avenue well is necessitated only by the fact that at present the Hopkins subway franchise carries with it exclusive rights as to subway construction under the southwesterly quarter of the

*See Appendix A, page 21, for county engineer's estimate of the cost entailed by the adoption of this plan.


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Figure 1. Showing conditions without subways -- east approach

Figure 2. Showing conditions without subways -- east approach


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Public Square, thus temporarily at least preventing the adoption of such a plan. But it is also a fact that the county has the right to deny to the holders of the Hopkins subway franchise the privilege of extending tracks across the Detroit-Superior bridge, and this condition seems to your committee to offer a basis for a trade where by the city and the county could jointly acquire subway rights under the Public Square in exchange for which the county would grant the holders of the subway franchise rights on the new bridge. Thus the objectionable well on Superior Avenue might, if the terminal subway plan is adopted, be eliminated before it is even build.


Proposed Agreement between County and City

The purchase of property from private owners by Cuyahoga County to provide a site for the Detroit-Superior Bridge gave the county no right to use any part of the City Street for the construction of approaches. Thus it will be necessary for the county to secure the city's consent before the plan can be made effective.

A resolution setting forth details of the terminal subway plan and authorizing the city to enter into the necessary agreement with the county has been approved by the City Plan Commission, passed by the City Council and signed by the Mayor. Subsequently, a referendum petition has been filed the referendum to be voted upon on April 25, 1916.*


To facilitate comparison between the surface approach plan and the terminal subway plan, traffic conditions at the bridge approaches will be briefly described.

Complex Intersection at Detroit Avenue and West 25th Street

The intersection at the Detroit Avenue end of the bridge is singularly complex. The new bridge approaches this point from the east; Superior Viaduct from the northeast; and Detroit Avenue from the west: while West 25th street runs north and south across the intersection. Thus there are now five approaches to this intersection and if, as has been suggested, Bulkley Boulevard were to be extended to the new bridge, a sixth approach would be established.

* For language of referendum see back cover


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Traffic Congestion at Detroit Avenue and West 25th Street

Appendix B, page 22, contains traffic data relating to the intersection of West 25th Street and Detroit Avenue, which furnish conclusive evidence of the congestion now existing at this point. It is estimated that an average of one hundred and forty three trolley cars and three hundred vehicles (a total of four hundred and forty-three conveyances) pass the intersection every hour. It is important to note, however, that the traffic "load" is unevenly distributed, the traffic sheets showing that four hundred and eighty vehicles and four hundred and thirty-three tolley cars (a total of nine hundred and thirteen conveyances) pass the intersection daily in the single hour -- 5.00 to 6.00 p.m.

Congestion at Superior Avenue Bridge Approach

All that has been said relative to the present congestion at the west approach to the Detroit-Superior Bridge applies thought to a less extent, to the east approach. No detailed analysis of the traffic at this point is needed to demonstrate the fact that the east approach presents a difficult traffic problem. The situation is rendered complicated by the proximity of (old) Water Street hill, since all traffic on West 9th Street between the Erie and B. & O depots and the "flats", and all traffic on Superior Viaduct to and from the Erie and B & O. deposits and the "flats" must cross the east approach to the new bridge. Superior Viaduct traffic on Superior Avenue and West 9th Street is an added factor in producing congestion at the approach.


The committee has examined and found unsatisfactory several arguments attempting to prove that the Detroit-Superior bridge will not result in an increase of traffic congestion in the immediate vicinity of the bridge approaches, and that, therefore, the approach plans should not be changed to provide for terminal subways.

Grade of Bridge as a Deterrent to Traffic

It has been argued, for example, that the grade of the new bridge, (about 4 percent at its maximum) will prevent its use by certain kinds of traffic. The committee finds, however, that only very trucks will be kept off the bridge by this grade.

Deflection of Traffic by Re-routing of Superior Viaduct

It has been argued that, if, as has been proposed, the eastern end of Superior Viaduct is swung over to St. Clair Avenue,


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1. Showing condition without subways -- west approach

2. Showing condition with subways -- west approach


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traffic finding the grade of the new bridge a hindrance, and therefore using the Viaduct, will be deflected to St. Clair Avenue. But the committee finds that it is doubtful whether the United States Government would permit the Viaduct to be extended to St. Clair Avenue as a draw bridge, (owing to its proximity to the Main Street low level swing bridge), but only as a high level bridge. In this case it would probably have a grade approximately equal to that of the new bridge and thus lose even its present usefulness for heavy traffic. In any case, Superior Viaduct would discharge westbound traffic at the Detroit Avenue-West 25th Street intersection.


Deflection of Traffic by Construction of Proposed Huron-Lorain Bridge

It has also been argued that the proposed Huron-Lorain bridge would, if erected, deflect a considerable portion of the traffic between the east and west sides from the Detroit-Superior bridge, thus materially relieving the congestion. But the committee, after close study of this matter, states confidently that the proposed Huron-Lorain Bridge would deflect only a relatively small fraction of such traffic and would, at best, afford only temporary relief. There is the additional fact that the number of high level bridges that can be constructed across the Cuyahoga valley is limited by the topography of this section.

Finding no conclusive arguments to the contrary, the committee believes that the traffic between Superior Avenue on the east side and Detroit Avenue and West 25th Street on the west side will steadily increase as a result of the opening of the Detroit-Superior bridge and that the resultant congestion at the Superior Avenue end and especially at the Detroit Avenue end of the bridge will present serious difficulties unless the problem of bridge approaches is properly solved at this time.


An argument advanced against the plan of subway bridge approaches is that they would have a bad effect upon business, especially at the west 25th Street intersection, by reason of the fact that bridge passengers would be carried beyond this intersection, which is at the present time a natural place for them to stop. Your committee is by no means certain that business at this point would seriously suffer by the installation of subways. There would still be a large volume of traffic at this point owing to the fact that all persons coming from the "flats", Whiskey


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Island or the lake front west of river must still come here to get their cars. The transferring of passengers from West 25th Street to Detroit Avenue, and vice versa, will continue. Lastly, the development of the West Side which be stimulated by the opening of the Detroit-Superior Bridge will naturally cause a general increase in West Side traffic.


1. The surface approach plan provides for the discharge of bridge cars at grade at each bridge approach, the cars coming up from the lower bridge level through an open well inserted in the roadway of the upper level. Since the cars coming up the well incline will not readily visible as if they were on the surface, this fact will present an opportunity for serious accidents and will frequently require the stopping of cars on the incline in order to avoid collisions with vehicles crossing the bridge approach. According to the terminal subway plan, however, bridge cars would be carried underground past the congested area at each bridge approach.

2. The surface approach plan requires the separation of the upper deck roadway into two twenty-foot roadways at each approach to provide for the insertion of the wells, and also requires the narrowing of the sidewalks at these points. Thus at the bridge terminals where some congestion must necessarily result increased congestion will be caused by reason of the decreased width of the roadways and sidewalks. The terminal subway plan, however, avoids this condition entirely. The adoption of such a plan would eliminate the wells in the bridge, provides for a widening of the roadway to sixty feet at each approach, and permit the construction of wide sidewalks. It would also make possible the retention of the present grade on Columbus Road (South Water Street) which, according to the surface approach plan, would, for a short distance on the westerly side of the street, be increased to 15 per cent.( practically a prohibitive grade.)

3. Under the surface approach plan the width of the east approach to Superior Viaduct would have to be reduced to about twenty feet and the sidewalks on the Viaduct would have to be eliminated. If the terminal subway plan were adopted, however, this would not be necessary.

4. The surface approach plan requires traffic on West 25th Street of Detroit Avenue going to or from the new bridge of Superior Viaduct to cross the bridge car tracks at some point, thus increasing the traffic congestion and the risks of accidents and delays. According to the terminal subway plan, however, bridge


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car tracks would be entirely removed from the Detroit Avenue-West 25th Street intersection, thus eliminating what would be a large factor in producing congestion at this point.


The terminal subway plan has these positive advantages:

1. It provides bridge approaches for streetcars, vehicles and pedestrians, large enough to permit the use of the entire structure to the greatest possible extent.

2. It provides convenient transfer station at the emergence of streetcars from the short terminal subway, thus promoting rapid transit with safety. On the West Side this would have the effect on encouraging transferring between the Detroit Avenue and West 25th Street cars, resulting in a more rational development and growth of retail business on the West Side.

3. It provides adequate room for vehicle traffic on streets leading to the bridge where subway wells are necessary, by the widening of those thoroughfares on the West Side and of the roadway on Superior Avenue.

4. It is adaptable to any plan for improved park approaches to Bulkely Boulevard and the West Side parkway system.

5. It will fit into and become a part of a downtown subway system on the East Side, when such a system has been installed, without any remodeling or reconstruction of the east bridge approach being required.


Respectfully submitted,

Morris A. Black, Charles F. Laughlin,
F. F. Prentiss, Wm. P. Leech,
Charles E. Adams, W. G. Mather,
E. H. Baker, Louis A. Moses,
Wm. A. Bohnard, Clarence J. Neal,
B.F. Bourne, F.H.Neff,
M. A. Bradley, D. Z. Norton,
J. W. Frazier, F. C. Osborn,
Abram Garfield, Wm. R. Powell,
Moses J. Gries, C. F. Schweinfurth,
Charles W. Hopkinson, Ambose Swasey,
Benjamin S. Hubbell,

Lyman H. Treadway,
George W. Kinney, F.R.Walker,
A. C. Klumph, Frederic Allen Whiting,
Committee on Municipal Art and Architecture.


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Appendix A

County Engineer's Estimation of the Cost, Which Would Be Entailed By the Adoption of the Terminal Subway Plan.


West 25th Street subway construction

Net cost land required for the widening of West 25th Street on its easterly side between Franklin Avenue and the bridge, including damages $150,000  
Detroit Avenue subway construction   $286,222
Net cost of land required for the widening of Detroit Avenue between West 28th Street and West 29th Street, including damages   $65,000
Net cost of land for widening northerly side of West bridge approach   75,000
Superior Avenue subway construction   145,966
Grand total   $883,598

By "net cost" is meant the cost after deducting the receipts from the sale of certain property not actually required for the improvement, but which the county prefers to purchase rather than pay to its owner's compensation in damages.

The cost of subway construction includes the cost of making the necessary sewer removal, sewer construction, paving and curbing. It does not include the removal of water mains or of conduits belonging to telephone and telegraph companies, or of gas mains. The cost of removing the water mains, however, is not a large item and in the case of the other subsurface structures the franchises granted by the city of Cleveland require their owners to remove them whenever they interfere with the making of public improvements.

The estimated cost of subway construction does not include the cost of subway stations, an item of expense, which the Cleveland Railway Company has indicated a willingness to meet.

The unit prices upon which the estimates of subway construction are based are as follows.

Excavation $2.50 per cubic yard
Concrete 14.50 per cubic yard
Cinders 1.56 per cubic yard
12-inch drain .371/2 per lineal foot
6-inch drain .25 per lineal foot
Paving taken up and re-laid 3.75 per square yard
New paving 2.45 per square yard
Re-inforcing steel .05 per pound
Waterproofing 1.25 per square yard
Based on the above figures, the cost of a two-track subway 166.50 per lineal foot


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Appendix B

Average Daily Vehicle Traffic at West 25th Street Intersection Excluding Street and Interurban Cars.

Vehicles going west on Superior Viaduct and south on West 25th street:  


  Passenger automobiles


  Business trucks


  Horse vehicles




Vehicles going west on Superior Viaduct and west on Detroit Avenue:  


  Passenger automobiles


  Business trucks


  Horse vehicles




Total Vehicles going west on Superior Viaduct  


Vehicles going east on Detroit Avenue and on to Superior Viaduct:  


  Passenger automobiles


  Business trucks


  Horse vehicles




Vehicles going north on West 25th Street and on to Superior Viaduct:  


  Passenger automobiles


  Business trucks


  Horse Vehicles




Total vehicles going east on Superior viaduct  


Average daily vehicle traffic at West 25th Street Intersection  



These figures do not include vehicles passing north on West 25th Street, going to and from the flats, or vehicles entering or leaving the viaduct via Vermont Street, for which no data are obtainable.

Average Daily Street and Interurban Car Traffic at West 25th Street Intersection ( car with trailer counted as one and one-half cars.)

Going west on Superior Viaduct out Detroit Avenue


Going west on Superior Viaduct and south on West 25th Street


  Total cars west bound  


Going east from Detroit Avenue on to Superior Viaduct


Going east from west 25th Street on to Superior Viaduct


  Total cars east bound  


  Total cars passing west 25th Street Intersection  


Summary of Average Daily Traffic at West 25th Street intersection

Vehicle other than street and interurban cars


Street and interurban cars






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The agreement between the city and the county authorizing the latter to construct terminal subway approaches to the Detroit-Superior high level bridge will be submitted to the electors by referendum on April 25, 1916. It will appear on the ballot as follows:


Cleveland Digital Library

Watson Bridge Book Collection

Last updated June 5, 2002

This electronic, World Wide Web edition of the "Terminal Subways for the Detroit-Superior Bridge" contains the complete text as found in the original work from 1915. The site is hosted by the Cleveland State University Library. Thanks to CSU Engineering grad student Ravi Chand Suvarnakanti for digitizing this article.

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