Culture in Public Works: The Vrooman Bridge

Submitted by Ben Anderson, SN DOT

Over the past few years the Seneca Nation has been working alongside the Ohio State Department of Transportation to develop the Vrooman Bridge through Leroy and Perry Ohio. The Vrooman Bridge involved the construction of a high-level bridge encompassing cultural designs over the Grand River (Raccoon River) on Vrooman Road. Due to the Erie/ Seneca cultural history of the “Raccoon River” members of the OHSDOT reached out to the Seneca Nation Department of Transportation and THPO Office to help research and design portions of the bridge which will serve as a landmark signifying the cultural relevance of the area and educating those who travel through the region.

Conceptual themes consisted of diagnostic artifacts (pottery, tools), native plant species, fishing/hunting techniques, animal species, and cultural pastimes which were all brought to visual representation by the SNDOT’s Ben Anderson.

The Vrooman Bridge opened to the public on October 5, 2020. Due to the cultural components that were worked into the design, the bridge was recently selected as one of the top bridges in 2020 by “Roads and Bridges,” placing 7th overall. Cleveland Museum of Natural History also highlighted the bridge as part of their Indigenous People’s Day!

The Ohio State DOT has shown great cooperation and willingness to strive towards cultural preservation. We hope that this project will become a model for other Nationwide public projects.