From Tragedy to Triumph

Editor's Note: This story comes from the News 11 Special Report: From Tragedy to Triumph: the Veteran's Glass City Skyway.

December 20th, 2006.  More than 100 feet into the gray sky above the Maumee River.  The greatest construction milestone of the greatest construction project in the history of ODOT.

"Today we'll be grabbing two segments from below and raising them up into position.  At that point, they'll find the stray," said Mike Gramza of the Ohio Department of Transportation.  "The next couple of weeks, put the last ten inches of concrete in and you'll be able to walk right across."

After four-and-a-half years spanning the gulf between north and east Toledo, the last pieces of the puzzle are lifted into place.  It's a process that's been repeated more than 3,000 times over the years with astonishing precision, the two sides inching slowly together until this moment.

"Oh, they're gonna match.  We have adjstments with these cable stays to make sure they match," said Jerome Laub of Ironworkers Local 55.  When asked if he was sure, he answered confidently, "Oh, yeah, either that or we'll have a big speed bump!"

For workers like Jerome Laub, it's a well-earned sense of humor for a well-seasoned crew.  And over the course of a few hours, as it all comes together exactly as they knew it would today, and the engineers knew it would from the beginning, the sense of accomplishment, of playing a major role in the history happening here, couldn't be more intense.

"Everybody that came to do this job came here to build a bridge, didn't just come here to work," said Laub.  "It's a great experience."

But everyone here is always aware that it came with a tremendous cost.  Above it all they raise a flag and spudwrenches to remember one tragedy, never imagining yet another lay ahead.  A quiet memorial that will live eternally with the bridge itself, long after the skyway goes from a dream, through tragedy, to ultimate triumph.

"Yeah, it's there. It'll always be there," said Jim Robinson from Ironworkers Local 55.