$1 billion in questions
remain for the Innerbelt

As of November 2003, the Ohio Department of Transportation and a committee of local planners and other stakeholders are narrowing option for the reconstruction of the Innerbeltthe tangle of highways passing through downtown Cleveland. More than $1 billion could be spent on this project, and, despite two years of intensive studies by transportation engineers, many questions remain about the impact of this investment on the long-term health of the city.

For example, will plans to smooth out traffic flows on the Innerbelt make the city more livable and more economically competitive, or will they simply make it even easier for suburban commuters to funnel in and out of downtown? Will the urban scars created years ago when the highways slashed through the city be healed and capped over with new parks and development sites (as is happening in Columbus), or will downtown see even more concrete? Will the old Central Viaduct Bridge simply get a new pavement deck, or will it be replaced by a beautiful, new bridge that will be an inspirational symbol for the city?

Perhaps the biggest question is how the $1 billion investment in road work will relate to the city's larger goals for increased housing opportunities downtown and in surrounding neighborhoods. If planners want to reduce traffic congestion on the highways leading into downtown, the best solution (and the only long-term solution) is to remove commuters from rush hour by having more downtown workers live close to their jobs. In other words, the best transportation strategy for revitalizing the urban core might be a housing strategy.

To start thinking about the possibilities of linking transportation investments and downtown land use, Cleveland could take some lessons from innovative planning in Atlanta and Portland. EcoCity is working with local planners to do so.


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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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