Cleveland Innerbelt study

The Ohio Department of Transportation has started a 24-month planning process for the biggest and most expensive road repair project in our regions history. Consultants are evaluating a T-shaped corridor from the interchange of I-71 and Ohio 176 (Jennings Freeway), north through downtown Cleveland to the I-90/Shoreway split, as well as the Shoreway between Edgewater and Gordon parks. (See Innerbelt Web site.)

Rebuilding the Innerbelt could last four to five years and will cost well over $100 million simply to replace the bridge decks and the existing 60 lane-miles of pavement. More than 160,000 vehicles per day will likely be routed onto neighborhood streets during construction, creating nightmares for both suburban motorists and local residents.

The news isnt all bad, though. A well-done study could connect and streamline many existing initiatives, including the Flats trucking study, Euclid Corridor Transportation Project, Cleveland-Akron-Canton Corridor Study, Convention Center planning, and the Canal Towpath Trail extension into downtown (for instance, modifications to the Metro Curve area of I-71 could include a bridge to allow the Towpath Trail safe passage around the steel mills). As if to emphasize this positive potential, the planners involved are calling the study the opportunity of a lifetime and the resulting project the most important one of their careers.

Bordering neighborhoods are wary of ODOTs every move, mindful of the tremendous damage they sustained when the highways were first built. Today theyre seeking to limit the impacts of traffic during the years of construction, and to ensure that their quality of life will be improved when the project is completed.


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