Transportation projects

Transportation infrastructure projects planned through 2020 in Northeast Ohio

What: The location of over $2 billion in highway capacity additions planned or proposed to be constructed in Northeast Ohio during the next two decades. The map shows that most such additions are located in suburban and rural locations where they would increase accessibility, encouraging a new wave of low-density, auto-dependent land use. Commuter rail lines currently under study could play a more beneficial role, if designed to connect town centers.

Why: It's difficult to plan for reinvesting in core urban communities and protecting valuable farmland and open spaces if transportation infrastructure investments encourage land speculation and sprawling development at the edges of the metropolitan area. The impact of two billion dollars in transportation investments will be felt for decades to come.

How: Transportation planning agencies for the seven-county region (NOACA and AMATS) have recently completed long-range plan updates in which most of the projects on the map are described. In addition, other projects have been included because significant attention has been paid to them in the press: for example, proposals for new interchanges at I-90 and Lear/Nagle Road in Avon (Lorain County), US 422 and Munn Road in Auburn Township (Geauga County), I-71 and Boston Road (on the Cuyahoga/Medina County line) and on I-480 in Independence (Cuyahoga County).

Transportation for people or cars?

In the past 50 years most development in the United States has been oriented to the automobile. It's been a spread-out, low-density form of development that has largely ignored other forms of transportation, such as transit, biking and walking. As a result, our society has become increasingly dependent on the automobileĀ—and we're suffering from greater traffic congestion, air pollution and reliance on foreign oil. In addition, many people are realizing that they don't like the "feel" of auto-oriented development. The ring road around the mall just doesn't give them the inviting, human-scale experience of a traditional Main Street.

The alternative to this automobile sprawl is transit-oriented development, which clusters a mix of residential, retail, office, open space, and public uses in a walkable environment, making it convenient for residents and employees to travel by transit, bicycle, foot, or car. Transit-oriented development follows a few basic principles:

  • Areas within walking distance of light rail or high frequency bus transit contain a mix of moderate- to high-density residential, commercial and employment uses that create a place with a high degree of pedestrian activity and a focal point for transit trips.
  • Commercial and civic uses are placed next to transit stops so that a number of errands can be done with only one stop.
  • Multiple street connections from neighborhoods to transit stops and local commercial destinations are provided.
  • Design is for pedestrians and transit, without excluding the auto.
  • Natural features are brought into the urban area and connected to regional green spaces.

These principles can be applied both to existing urban areas and to newly developing areas. Across the country, communities are realizing that they bring many benefits:

  • Increased transportation choices and access, especially for those without cars (children, the elderly, people with disabilities).
  • Reduction of traffic congestion, air pollution, and energy consumption.
  • Reduced need for costly road widenings.
  • Revitalization of compact urban communities and reduction of sprawl development.
  • Increased ability to manage growth by planning land use in relation to transit.

In the next 20 years Northeast Ohio is planning to spend $2 billion on new highway capacity, much of which will facilitate continued low-density development and outmigration. How could we spend that money in the region's existing town centers to promote redevelopment and a more balanced transportation system?

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EcoCity Cleveland
3500 Lorain Avenue, Suite 301, Cleveland OH 44113
Cuyahoga Bioregion
(216) 961-5020
Copyright 2002-2003

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Regional trends

Shifting wealth
Zoned for development
Transportation spending
Lands at risk



Legend for transportation infrastructure projects map
















Transportation projects map prepared by : EcoCity Cleveland, 1999

Data sources:
  1. U.S. Census Bureau TIGER files;
  2. Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA);
  3. Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS)
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