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Group pushing for bike-ped path on bridge to meet with ODOT and discuss a compromise

Marc Lefkowitz  |  10/26/10 @ 8:25pm

The coalition leading a community conversation around the design of a Cleveland Innerbelt Bridge to include a bike and pedestrian path are the same citizens and NGOs who will meet with the Ohio Department of Transportation on November 18 to discuss a compromise.

While the group formed around "a bridge for the 21st century" and are credited with engaging Governor Strickland, Congressman Kucinich and Senator Brown. Recently, its focus has shifted. Like many grassroots transportation groups, Cleveland's, which is calling itself Access for All, wants to improve every street, as a matter of course. The bridge issue led the group to discover how Departments of Transportation and cities across America are adopting "complete streets" ordinances that bring more flexibility to road engineering: Designs that have safety and comfort for all users-in a city, that means cyclists, walkers, wheelchair users and drivers-at their core.

Some in the group still believe that ODOT, with more creativity and the will of the city behind it, could insist that its designer add a bike-ped path on the bridge. At the same time, Access for All, which includes advocacy group, ClevelandBikes, and cycling educators Ohio City Bike Coop, wants to be at the table to shape the alternative route which snakes through the Near West Side and which ODOT has promised to pay to improve.

At today's Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Transportation meeting, they decided to gather ideas to leverage new investments ODOT has said it will make to the alternative route. At the same time, they are engaged in a discussion with a group of Cleveland City Councilmen interested in pursuing a complete streets ordinance.

ODOT Region 12 staffer John Motl, who is also a participant in the SC2019 group, said that ODOT is open to input about their alternative route plans.

At this point, here's what ODOT is offering as a compromise:

Part One: (to be paid for by ODOT and get built at the same time as the new westbound Innerbelt Bridge, scheduled to begin construction in 2011)

  • ODOT will reallocate existing pavement and stripe in a bike lane on Abbey Avenue from W. 11th Street (near Sokolowski's) in Tremont to the W. 25th Rapid Station in Ohio City.
  • ODOT will widen the Abbey Avenue Bridge deck 12 inches and remove a concrete "jersey" barrier in order to maintain a continuous bike lane and sidewalk on that stretch.
  • They are willing to add Share the Road and possibly Sharrows to W. 20th Street, the connection from Abbey to Lorain-Carnegie Bridge. Also, to help cyclists avoid having to make a left turn from the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge on to W. 20th, ODOT would add bike route signs pointing you, with a right turn when heading toward Ohio City, under the bridge -- circling back to Abbey using Old Lorain Avenue and W. 18th. Motl was asked if this route could have sharrows and improved lighting under the bridge.
  • Connections with the Towpath Trail and its Tremont trailhead at Literary were also discussed.

Part Two: (ODOT funded, according to Motl, but not in their estimation part of the Innerbelt Project ? even though its their alternative route, but anyway?)

Improvements to The Lorain-Carnegie Bridge

  • ODOT would like to extend the bike route on the bridge at the west end to Gehring (the W. 25th Rapid Station) and to the intersection on the east end with Carnegie-Ontario.
  • They are considering 'skinnier' 11-ft. inside lanes and wider lanes on the outside to accommodate trucks and a striped shoulder for the bike route (as exists).
  • ODOT plans to connect the east end with a new pedestrian promenade located on a triangular plot across from Progressive Field. The promenade with bike trail would lead to a crosswalk at Eagle Avenue that, if designed well, could lead cyclists and pedestrians to the downtown bike station at E. 2nd (behind the arena). In the larger context, this would put a connecting piece in the puzzle for a plan emerging to link the Towpath Trail, Canal Basin Park to downtown/Gateway and the lakefront (this is part of the vision of the new Group Plan Commission).
  • ODOT also plans to design a off-road bike trail from Carnegie-Ontario-Broadway along the latter south in the direction of the Orange Avenue Post Office and Slavic Village.
  • On the Ohio City side, the bridge portion would need to connect with the circular W. 18th route. It's an ideal place for a wayfinding signage program, says Kevin Cronin of ClevelandBikes.

Jacob Van Sickle of Slavic Village Development will organize the Access for All/2019 Transportation group in a planning session before the November 18 public meeting about the proposed alternative /Lorain-Carnegie improvements. The public meeting is from 3-5 p.m. in a location to be determined (check back on this page for more details).

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