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April 16, 2013 - Robert "Bubba" Kapral
THE PROPOSED demolition of the Bellaire Toll Bridge was again in the headlines last week. So what else is new? Talk about the project is cheap, but it appears razing the deteriorating span is too expensive to make it come to fruition. The bridge's fate has been bandied about for more than two decades, yet nothing has been accomplished, except for hollow promises. Lee Chaklos, current co-owner of the span, said last week that he wants to begin demolition work. He said his attempts to do so are being stymied by the City of Benwood's failure to grant him the needed permits. There is one obvious reason Benwood doesn't offer up those permits. Chaklos must ante up $500,000 cash bond to ensure completion of the project. Also if the bridge owners fail to get started by June 20, they will face a $1,000 daily fine. So why should the city give Chaklos a green light to proceed? If he cannot make good on his part of the deal, Benwood needs to stand its ground. The bridge owners are the ones under the gun. Commencing June 20, things get real costly for the bridge owners. If they are sincere in their plans to take down the structure, why not deliver the $500,000 and start the work? Once the work is properly completed, the owners get their $500,000 back with interest. If they cannot come up with the money, they need to cut their losses and move on. It is a black-and-white issue, either deliver the money and begin razing or toss in the towel. I think if the bridge's owners were truly on board with the demolition work, they would have already started. It makes no sense to drag their heels if they are capable of doing the work. The latest delay is just another in a long line of roadblocks the project has encountered. Unfortunately, after each hurdle appears cleared another one appears. I maintain what I have consistently said: The Bellaire Bridge will not come down in my lifetime.
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