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Keeping tabs on Lorain-Carnegie bike-ped facilities; plans emerge to Save Lower Prospect; Complete and Green streets introduced

Marc Lefkowitz  |  06/15/11 @ 10:25am

·Two of Cleveland's influential urban design and performance art groups are teaming up to turn the lower deck of the Detroit-Superior Bridge into a really cool space for live music, performance art and festivals like Ingenuity and to serve once again as a transportation corridor. Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative director Terry Schwarz and Ingenuity director James Levin won a $75,000 Transportation for Livable Communities grant to dive into issues like access to the former streetcar subway deck from the surface streets, and to provide a plan to update conditions such as lighting, sound and space to make it a compelling venue (even Ingenuity, the city's marquee performance/music/art festival, seems dwarfed by the venue). The UDC will draw up plans to reconfigure the space and cast about for a 'public transportation' link-such as the Conference Bike that shuttled Ingenuity goers two years back-said UDC staffer, David Jurca. The urban designer donned a fuzzy brown bear suit recently and snapped a photo at the Flats East Bank end of the bridge for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's "This Place Matters" competition. Among the thousands of entries, the Detroit-Superior bridge made it to the finals ? winners get a shot at $25,000. The money could be a local match to move the bridge designs into the next phase. Your vote could make the difference (go to bridgevote.com and in the blue box, click "register"; Enter your email address and zip code; On the list of sites, scroll down to "Cleveland Bridge Project" and click on it; In the blue box, click "Vote Now!")

·Access for All-Cleveland's homegrown complete streets coalition-and the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Transportation group are keeping a close eye on the details of the $6 million bike and pedestrian improvements to the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge that they won from ODOT as a result of their Innerbelt Bridge multi-use path campaign.

The Cleveland Planning Commission approved the expansion of the raised sidewalk on the north side of the bridge and new 'old style' pedestrian lamps. The 15-foot wide sidewalk can accommodate cyclists and pedestrians, and it will connect with a new bike path that ODOT plans to build on the west side of Ontario, across from Progressive Field. For the experienced cyclist, sharrows will be painted on the road (click on image to the right for more details).

Access for All member Jacob Van Sickle attended the meeting and reported that: "Bob Brown, from the commission, and Andrew Watterson, Chief of Sustainability in the Mayor's Office, indicated that our concerns regarding speed on the bridge, addition of a left-turn bike box, and bike section in the crosswalk are currently being discussed with Traffic Engineering and decisions will be brought back to the STAT2019 group.

"My understanding is that all of these issues are ones that need to be approved by the City and ODOT. The most interesting part is that Andrew Watterson indicated that traffic engineering is looking into the addition of a bike box to provide a safe route for cyclists to turn left onto Ontario. This is something that is not currently implemented in Cleveland, we need to make sure we show support for such innovative bike improvements in our city."

Bike boxes are a federal pilot project and so the city would need to ask ODOT to design one at left turn lane at the Ontario end of the bridge (for cyclists on the road who want to turn left from the bridge onto Ontario). San Francisco has a very successful left turn bike box on its popular on-street bike route known as The Wiggle. Cleveland could show that its also a place for innovation and consideration of multi-modal transportation.

·The Columbia Building (pictured right) isn't dead yet. Advocates for saving the 100-year old gem from the wrecking ball for a parking garage and valet zone across from Rock Gaming's temporary casino in the Higbee Building are organizing a case to save it ? if Rock Gaming and certain parties are willing to be flexible. Advocates will make a public show of support for saving Cleveland's historic landmark buildings at tomorrow morning's Landmarks Commission meeting (9 a.m. at Cleveland City Hall's Room 514).

Since the Commission tabled the proposal on May 26, historic preservation, urban design and architecture and even student groups have been working with the casino, which owns the building, to find a mutually agreeable alternative. Reportedly, Rock Gaming's architect KA has drawn up an alternative plan that could save the building, but they raise a number of objections (ones which can be solved if the city has a 'can-do' attitude and knows that it is backed by public support). For more information, check out the Facebook group Save Lower Prospect, or show up at the Landmarks Commission meeting which is open to the public.

·Complete and Green Streets legislation was introduced in Cleveland City Council by co-sponsors Joe Cimperman and Matt Zone on June 6. Reportedly, Jay Westbrook and Brian Cummins are coming on as co-sponsors, and at least three other council members voiced support. A bike advocate present at the meeting reports that Council President Martin Sweeney and Councilman Mike Polensek voiced some concerns around cost. According to a source at the city, the Jackson Administration is supportive of both complete and green streets and is moving ahead with the details, such as design guidelines ? a key in ensuring that good multimodal design gets baked in early so that cost isn't as much of a factor later. The sponsors hope the ordinance (which will enable the policy and guidelines to get written) will get hammered out at the July council meeting. In the meanwhile, if you are a Cleveland resident who supports complete streets, drop your councilman a line or call them with your support.

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