Bridges to everywhere

When Youngstown State University students cross over the walking bridge on Wick Avenue, they may not think about the person who helped envision it years ago. However, the work of late engineer Wade Harvey still stands throughout the Mahoning Valley.

From Himrod Avenue, Gibson Street and Walton Avenue bridges in Youngstown to the Girard Viaduct to the state Route 616 bridge in Struthers, Harvey’s mark is clear as day.

Harvey, 60, who lived in Liberty, passed away Sept. 5, 2010, during the final design of his last project – the Standardsburg Road Bridge in Huron County. A plaque in honor of Harvey will be affixed to the bridge during a dedication at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Harvey received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from YSU in 1973 and 1980, respectively.

“Wade was a humble man, so he was never one to really toot his own horn. He really loved his work,” said his wife, Cathy Harvey.

“He wouldn’t want all the fuss. He would say, ‘I was just doing my job,'” said Brian Hughes, senior project manager at ms consultants inc.

“Meticulous,” said Anna Gasser when asked to describe Harvey.

Gasser, who works in the company’s administration for Transportation Services, said, “There was no rushing Wade. He would always take his time and make sure he had it right the first time.”

Huron County hired ms consultants to work on the Standardsburg Road Bridge, primarily because of Harvey, Hughes said.

The Standardsburg Road Bridge posed a challenge because it was built in the 1920s and hadn’t seen repairs since the late 1970s or early ’80s. The bridge was unable to carry a full load and needed major repairs.

Some members of the community wanted to preserve the bridge, but others wanted a new one built, Gasser said.

“It was a cost matter. Funding was an issue. It’s on an old country road and … would have cost over $2 million to replace, so Wade was like, ‘Let me think about it,'” she said.

Harvey came up with a way to disassemble the bridge and have it shipped off piece by piece to be repaired, strengthened and regalvanized.

Hughes said most of the time, bridge work is done on-site. However, some of the work needed to be done in an alternate location in order to avoid contamination of the river.

The parts were shipped to U.S. Bridge in Cambridge, and after the work was done, it was shipped back and reassembled on new elastomeric bearings.

“They replaced all the rivets with the bolts so it could carry a full load. We expect this repair to last 50 years,” Hughes said.

Gasser said, “Not only was it the last bridge that Wade worked on before he passed away, but (it showed) the kind of person he was. Preserving the history, that’s what Wade was all about, and this was a prime example of his career.”

Gasser also said Harvey would have been pleased with the finished results.

“He wouldn’t say much of anything, you could just look at his face and you could tell he would be happy with it,” she said.

Cathy Harvey said he was also an excellent husband and father, and although he often kept his work separate from home, the couple would often drive around the area and look at his various projects.

“He could tell me all the differences between one bridge and another. He cared a lot about them,” she said.

Harvey also designed the support system for the EZ Pass lanes, she said.

“He designed the support system for those that hold those things up … Somebody had to come up with that,” she said.

Harvey also held a love for constructing and flying large model airplanes, which he did in his spare time.

Although Cathy Harvey said she couldn’t say which project her husband favored, the walking bridge over Wick Avenue was one of the earliest in his career.

“Probably it was special to him,” she said. “This is a really wonderful thing that’s going to happen next Tuesday, and I know he’s happy about it, too, where he is,” Harvey said.