Sat 12/14 + Sun 12/15 @ 3pm
The Opportunity Corridor is one of the most controversial proposed public projects in the region in years. Supporters and many public officials claim it’s necessary to our community’s economic development. Many members of the community have raised numerous concerns over various aspects of the project. However, thanks to eager public officials and private, financial support, plans are clearly moving forward.
Despite their progress, the Ohio Department of Transportation has held only one public meeting since 2011. In response, Clevelanders for Transportation Equality, a grassroots citizen group, is organizing two public meetings this weekend at United Methodist Church at University Circle.
“ODOT only held one meeting and feedback was consistently negative about this project,” says Angie Schmitt of Clevelanders for Transportation Equality. “Still that agency and our political leaders are marching ahead with this project as if public consensus were not necessary. We are a group of concerned citizens representing east side, west side and suburban communities and we are trying to fight to ensure that this project does not further weaken urban neighborhoods while devoting millions to convenience suburban commuters.”
Citizens are encouraged to join city residents affected by the planned corridor for more information on opportunities to voice their concerns regarding the proposed $331 million, 3 mile-long project. Even the biggest proponents of the project have a hard time justifying $110 million dollars per mile of road to affected families living below the poverty line – especially for a project designed to alleviate a few minutes of inconvenience from suburban commutes and expedite commercial traffic.
“The purpose of the Opportunity Corridor project is to improve the transportation infrastructure, access and mobility within a historically underserved, economically depressed area within the city of Cleveland,” explains Amanda Lee McFarland, Public Information Officer at ODOT. “The project will improve system linkage between I-490/I-77 and University Circle. Aside from the transportation benefits it could bring to this part of Cleveland, this effort opens the potential for new economic development and new jobs.”
Cleveland has a lot of positive qualities but our roads and our infrastructure are not our best features. It would make sense to use our resources to fix our current roads before tying up hundreds of millions of dollars on a new 3-mile shortcut. Every winter, the salt trucks and plows destroy our roads. The highways and suburbs have the budget to quickly repair any potholes, but the community streets on the near-east and west sides are usually downright dangerous, as far as your tires are concerned, long into the spring.
The Opportunity Corridor is a project with implications that will only be known years from now. With all the issues facing Cleveland during this pivotal time, we must ask ourselves, is this the best time to spend $300+ million on 3 miles of road? Our neighbors are struggling to find work, pay their mortgage and feed their families. There are people legitimately suffering in these neighborhoods while their neighbors try to justify $110+ million per mile of gentrification, all in the name of “progress.”
Have a better idea on how to spend $300+ million? Join the discussion in University Circle this weekend.
Josh Usmani is a 27 year old local artist, curator and writer. Since 2008, his work has been featured in over 50 local and regional exhibitions.