Concerned about Opportunity Corridor? Make one of these meetings.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 Responses to “Concerned about Opportunity Corridor? Make one of these meetings.”

  1. Not to get in the way of these two love-birds…

    The neighborhoods impacted by the Opportunity Corridor have been virtually hidden from Clevelanders and the world for many years. The Opportunity Corridor will now reveal the opportunities these neighborhoods have for homes, businesses and a wide range of activities that enhance the quality of life for all. Rather than avoiding these neighborhoods by taking freeways, the Opportunity Corridor offers commuters an efficient way to cross town, while discovering Fairfax, Kinsman, Slavic Village and Lower Buckeye.

    The route taken by the Opportunity Corridor has changed a dozen times or more, reflecting the input of residents, business owners and other stakeholders. Their voices, their concerns have been heard and will continue to be heard as the project moves forward. It is not a freeway. It is a boulevard that will benefit not just commuters, but also provide for accelerated growth of vibrant neighborhoods through which it flows.

    In fact, there are many development project already happening here. Groups like Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation have been in the planning and building process for years in anticipation of this project becoming a reality.The neighborhoods along the Corridor are likewise putting plans into action for economic development that will help leverage the rejuvenation of the entire district.

    This is a project that marks the beginning of a great shift in the rebuilding of our neighborhoods. This is the right time and the right place to invest in neighborhoods that are ready to be discovered.

  2. Angie Schmitt

    So the best way for commuters to discover these neighborhoods in not to drive through them on neighborhood roads. Interesting theory. Here’s what Terry Coyne and Fred Geis, two if the biggest developers in our region, think of the development prospects around the corridor. I’ll give you a hint: they’re not buying. http://www.freshwatercleveland.com/features/opportunitycorridor2121213.aspx?utm_source=VerticalResponse&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=what%27s+the+economic+development+potential+of+the+opportunity+corridor%3F&utm_content=%7BEmail_Address%7D&utm_campaign=A+Beer+Fueled+Economy

  3. Hopefully this has no typos, here we go…

    If you want to invest in and rebuild a neighborhood, then money should be spent by investing and rebuilding the neighborhood, not building a road over the neighborhood with little community input. There is no question that these neighborhoods need investment, but is this the right kind of investment? I went to the only community meeting that ODOT has held since funding was obtained and the majority of attendees had major concerns that have not been addressed in the current design.

    Yes, groups like Fairfax Renaissance Development Corp have been planning for a long time, but they are the least impacted neighborhood- they will see E 105 widened and made repaved, but what about the other areas of the project? Furthermore, Fairfax Corp admits that this “New Economy” would have likely happened with or without the corridor:
    “[Vickie] Johnson [Executive Director of Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation] admits that the New Economy Neighborhood, the brand for E. 105th Street between Cedar and Quincy, could likely have been developed without the Opportunity Corridor. But she says that the roadway will accelerate and enhance the entire project, fueling development within Fairfax and providing economic opportunities for residents.”1

    Yes the corridor could fuel development, but what kind of development do we want? In my opinion, we’d want development similar to “The New Economy Neighborhood” throughout the entire corridor. Why “new economy neighborhood” vs what could be the “new economy CORRIDOR” – keep in mind the original name of this project was “University Circle Access Road” – sadly, the rest of the project seems to be a cut through to access the “new economy.”

    Why not design the whole corridor to accommodate businesses such as the The Global Cardiovascular Innovation Center in Fairfax? Unfortunately the rest of the corridor is designed for large industrial “superblocks” – this is the last thing Cleveland needs as we have plenty of industrial space. Also, the current plan does not include brownfield mediation, which would have to be paid for by the developer and may discourage development. Brownfield mediation would only cost an additional $10 million. What’s $10 to a project that already costs over $330 million?

    Also, what about transit access in these neighborhoods? About 40% of residents do not own cars, hence this corridor will not benefit them because it does not include transit. If anything, this discourages transit use by making single occupancy commuting easier and literally walling off people from transit stations- due to the intersection at E 55th st, the transit station there will have to be surround by walls creating a barrier for people who need to access the station. It has been discussed that E 79th St rapid will be closed if it cannot be made ADA compliant. Again, why not develop around the rapid station with businesses and housing as part of this corridor – that would create some benefits for residents who do not own cars.

    Even if the corridor had bus service in the future, how would an elderly resident who relies on transit get the bus northbound to work if they live on the other side of the street and there are only a few safe cross walks? For example, looking at the current plan, there is only one intersection to be able to cross the corridor between E 79th and Buckeye – that is a pretty long walk on a cold, windy day. If the “New Economy Neighborhood” has many crosswalks, why not the rest of the corridor?

    Speaking of transit, this will likely close the roundabout intersection of Quincy Avenue and Woodhill – two bus routes rely on this intersection (#10 and #11). #10 is used by many veterans to the south to get to the VA hospital and the #11 is used by many families to send their kids to school. Apparently the city is looking at keeping access for emergency vehicles only and POSSIBLY buses, if not a lengthy reroute may have to take place. Service has already been cut in these areas, so further cuts or detours are unacceptable. Also, for the people that do drive, now they are cut off from East 105th street once the Quincy and Woodhill intersection closes. Why would a driver from the neighborhood want a longer trip?

    What about the commuter? This road will only save a few minutes of time to get to University Circle. Time could be saved just by reconfiguring the intersection of E55 for more turning lanes and re-timing stoplights up E 55th and down Woodland and/or Quincy Avenue. What if there is an accident on the corridor in rush hour? Since the corridor is disconnected from the network of streets, you may have to face a lengthy backup of traffic. And how will University Circle deal with more single occupancy car commuters when parking is already scarce not to mention that rapid transit already serves University Circle? Why not expand and encourage transit vs. building more parking?

    Where are my fiscal conservatives in this discussion? What about maintenance costs for the city? We hear this all the time about public transportation projects (i.e. see streetcar in Cincinnati) but what about the cost to the City of Cleveland for maintaining this corridor? I have not seen this addressed.

    Also, it would be beneficial to know where any similar project been built with success in the last 10 years? What did they do to make it successful and are those aspects similar to the current corridor? I just don’t see new projects like this being built often and have a hard time seeing the benefits of such a large investment.

    In short, YES, investment is needed in these communities, but is spending $330 million on one road with many questionable aspects the best use of these funds? I am definitely not sold on that one…

    1: http://www.freshwatercleveland.com/features/opportunitycorridor2121213.aspx

  4. big $,big unions,big contractors,etc.in this mix……DO agree with Perry on lot of His assessements. UNIV.CIRCLE will get faved,etc. REST of it? Yes,no,maybe…suspect stuff closest to Yup nirvana Medical and educationLand over there will get lot of the benefit out of it…REST of it? SOME will resist…OTHERS GLAD to get out for various reasons..others whatever…Hillbillies,homies know how to run,hide,etc.etc. Duffel bag,grocery cart or fling stuff into back of a old rentawreck… MAYBE witnessing few or last project of this kind… PERRY IS RIGHT in assessments of power,etc. a CERTAIN lawyer working for C Browns comes to mind among others… TIME will tell on good ol chair throwing George F and HIS efforts far as C and E. Cleve.merger thing…”DID I HEAR MY name in vain there”!

    Agree with FIRST Angie S comments….COMPARED TO SOME REAL farout wigged out ‘aping’ of Las VEGAS or Toronto or Seattlesque ideas,icons least THIS is sellable… FEWER places for blank to hide,etc. SHOVEL what left into WHAT is left standing… some poor souls better off IN nursing homes,group homes,etc.etc. WHILE writing THIS I AM SURE eviction papers being issued,served or demolition crew showing up to take care of this or that bldg…or arsonists are…

    TIME will tell if all this lands on Columbus front door or not…suspect THEY are letting mayham continue and then go from there…

  5. Akshai

    If you live, work, or commute in these neighborhoods, they are not hidden at all, and on full display everyday. Yet, for those residents and commuters who know the area, and use our north-south routes, (e.g. E. 79th, Woodhill), or who travel by Cedar, Quincy, or Woodland, there will be zero benefits.

    You could achieve the same time savings for commuters by repairing East 55th, Grand, Woodland, East 79th, and East 105th each. Instead we are now saying that this $100m/mile road is to incentivize new industrial development… that isn’t actually occurring in places that are highway-proximate and have local road access ALREADY.

    It’s a joke. Also, for all the residential input, we still see that Quincy is scheduled to be closed to Woodhill- east of East 105th, with those residents most impacted being unmentioned by ODOT’s DEIS.

    Cleveland will attract private residential and commercial investment just fine with a commitment to repairing its current road surface stock, and completing the streets with improved access for walkable, bikeable neighborhoods connected through public transit. That would be creating supply to meet REAL demand of urban real estate. Not making up dreamscapes of new-industrial development to justify what is really a new insanely-expensive commuter road.

  6. Lets see HOW long,or well Cleve.Clinic and rest expand….sure obamaCare will get some flack over that comment but got other factors tooo…PERRY is right..WILL have some shifting of population,money to certain favored hoods aka Warehouse Dist and other Yuppie destinations but…til RIGHT NOW HAD hospitals setting up SATELLITE hospitals all over the place…HOW many at major freeway intersections? EVEN METRO is doing it…Driven down CENTER rd in BRUNSWICK OHIO lately? Route 303…LOT of medical money flowed in…ALL the ‘brands’…including that ‘dialysis machine chain’ who took over ANOTHER small ex medical bldg..funky part..sorta a digital divide there tooo…got strip shopping centers with dollar stores,(HAD sweepstakes casino storefront thing),other odds n ends, semi lackluster restaurant thing going on of some mom n pops,fast food and gas station food (least for first couple miles..) while got MEGA MILLION dollar medical going in…on OTHER end of that scale had SMALL medical office bldgs. SIT MT forever…one was a radiology lab that was a ex bank at one point …LOOKS like kept up…maybe occasionally ‘runs’. THAT CITY LOT MORE inclined to allow demolition whether by owners &/or by legal authorities then others… PONDEROSA got leveled after a few yrs…same with Bobs Big Boy…both were getting up there in age…

    RIGHT now population and rest of it up in the air…

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