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Promoting Safety and Access Cleveland's Innerbelt Freeway
2. Project Details
2.1. Project Overview
For the past several years, ODOT has been working with the community to develop a comprehensive strategy to rebuild the Cleveland Innerbelt. This effort, which in 2004 evolved into the Cleveland Innerbelt Plan, includes rebuilding portions of Interstates 71, 77 and 90 through downtown Cleveland.
The Innerbelt Plan is divided into several projects, which include:
- East 55th Street Bridge.
- Innerbelt Curve.
- Innerbelt Trench.
- Central Interchange.
- I-77 Access.
- Central Viaduct.
- Southern Innerbelt.
- Quigley Road Extension.
- West 7th Street/I-490 Interchange.
Since 2004, ODOT and its consultant team have been working on preliminary engineering and environmental studies for various segments of the project.
Figure 1: Cleveland Innerbelt Study Points of Reference
2.2. Project History and Development
The concept of the Innerbelt Freeway was first discussed in a series of reports published by two entities, the Regional Association of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, between 1944 and 1957.
These publications detailed a transportation system for downtown Cleveland that resembles half a wheel, with radial freeways from the downtown "hub" like spokes and the Innerbelt Freeway serving as the encircling rim that ties the system together via the Central Interchange. (See Section 2.1 of the Cleveland Innerbelt Study Purpose and Need, available online [PDF, 26 mb].)
Because some portions of the proposed system were never constructed, the arterial streets and parallel freeways carry more regional travelers than originally projected. This, in turn, impacts the number of lanes needed for lane balance on the Innerbelt Freeway.
2.3. Project Purpose
The purpose of the Innerbelt Plan, as defined in the Purpose and Need Statement, is as follows:
- Improve the physical condition of the existing Innerbelt Freeway bridge decks and roadway pavements.
- Improve the operational performance of the Innerbelt Freeway.
- Improve the safety of the Innerbelt Freeway.
- Improve the access provided by the Innerbelt Freeway.
- Support community goals, enhance the aesthetics of the built environment and reflect high standards of environmental responsibility.
2.4. Project Challenges
Concentration of Bridges
There are 25 bridges on the Innerbelt, including the 5,079-foot-long Central Viaduct. Twenty-four of the bridges fall within a three-mile corridor between the Jennings Interchange and the Central Interchange, with over half of the freeway in this area located on structure.
All 25 of the bridges on the Innerbelt were constructed between 1959 and 1969. ODOT estimates that the bridge decks will need to be replaced between 2008 and 2017.
The Cleveland Innerbelt Study Purpose and Need states that there are "numerous areas" along the Innerbelt that do not meet current freeway design standards. The report notes several issues that must be addressed as part of the Innerbelt Freeway Reconstruction project:
- Improper reductions in the number of basic lanes on the freeway.
- Inadequate acceleration, deceleration, wave or terminal spacing lengths on the freeway ramps.
- Inadequate curve radius on the freeway mainline.
The average daily traffic (ADT) for the project study area is 130,000, with large portions of the Innerbelt Freeway operating at a level of service (LOS) of D or below during the morning and afternoon peak travel periods. [A LOS of C or higher is the desired standard.] This, combined with a lack of shoulders and an inability to dissipate even the most minor of disruptions to traffic flow, makes MOT a major concern, especially during construction.
2.5. Project Status
In 2004, the Innerbelt Scoping Committee reached agreement on both the scope and the design concept for the Innerbelt project, and the Ohio Transportation Review Advisory Committee (TRAC) committed funds to several Innerbelt projects for state fiscal years 2007-2010, namely the reconstruction of the Innerbelt Curve, the East 55th Street railroad bridge, and a reconstructed West 14th Street interchange from I-71 and SR 176 that includes a connector road to Quigley Road in the Cuyahoga River Valley.
Also in 2004, the Northeast Ohio Area Coordinating Agency (NOACA) amended its Transportation Plan and Transportation Improvement Plan to include the reconstruction of the Innerbelt, and the City of Cleveland and ODOT signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding reconstruction of the Innerbelt.
ODOT and its consultant team have been working on preliminary engineering and environmental studies for various segments of the project for the past two years. ODOT expects to complete the final environmental document, featuring selection of the preferred alternative, in late 2006/early 2007.
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