Publicly Shaming ODOT to Do the Right Thing

By Joe Baur

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has shown repeatedly they are not interested in funding alternative means of transportation. Despite being one of the most urbanized states in the country, Ohio continues to allocate a paltry $11 million annually to transit. This puts us near the bottom in transit funding nationally alongside sparsely populated states.

Yet what does ODOT have for us in the pipeline?

Widening I-271, I-71, and a three-mile highway extension through largely car-free neighborhoods called the Opportunity Corridor – all auto-oriented projects that undermine transit despite tight budgets and a decrease in miles driven nationally and statewide. All this on top of nearly $2 billion to rebuild a 1950s highway better known as the Innerbelt.

These projects have received scant, if any, criticism from ODOT officials, media or elected officials. But $400 million from the federal government to build passenger rail was eviscerated unlike any highway project.

So how to get ODOT’s attention? This remains the holy grail of Ohio transportation. However Tim Kovach, my new favorite Cleveland environmentalist, has a brilliant suggestion:

Publicly shame ODOT into doing the right thing.

ODOT has yet to respond to reasoned thinking. Anyone from the Cincinnati suburbs to our very own can see that ODOT is not equitably funding alternative transportation. Others might know that our infrastructure is crumbling, we cannot afford it, and we are that much unhealthier – physically, economically and environmentally – because of the transportation system ODOT has given us.

Still the public has been as silent on transit as Governor John Kasich and his Democratic opponent, Ed FitzGerald. Why Mr. FitzGerald has yet to champion this obvious inequality is beyond me.

In a recent post at his website, Mr. Kovach offered visual evidence of the dangerous situation ODOT’s “infatuation with sprawl” leaves for Clevelanders. Here’s his breakdown of the image, which is a snapshot of an RTA bus stop on Route 237.

“Route 237 is a restricted-access highway with a 50mph speed limit. In other words, you aren’t even allowed to walk or bike on the road due to the dangerous speed at which traffic moves, but you can wait for a bus 3 feet away from passing cars. And if you need to cross to the other side of 237 for any reason, keep dreaming. There’s no intersection anywhere near it. I don’t know if anyone has been killed or injured waiting for a bus here, but if not, it’s just a matter of time. Ohio has completely abrogated its responsibility to fund alternate transportation, and the end result is this kind of nightmare for public safety.”

This is just one in a plethora of example’s where ODOT’s development strategy has put Ohioans both in and out of a vehicle in tremendous danger.

Anyone at ODOT seeing this image ought to feel ashamed. How do these thoroughfares help move Ohio forward? How do they keep us economically sound? How the hell are people outside of cars supposed to get around efficiently and safely?

While I would much rather solve the state’s transportation woes like adults, ODOT does not seem interested in changing their irresponsible habits. Perhaps Kovach is right when he says, “Maybe we can shame ODOT into changing its reckless ways.” Though he does immediately concede, “Probably not.”

But I think it’s worth a shot. After all, what’s the worst that can happen? Ohio continues to get strangled by increasingly widened highways built with make believe money? That’s already our reality.

Kovach offers to accept photos or comments highlighting the worst and most dangerous bus stops in Northeast Ohio. I’m going to go a step further and include dangerous crosswalks. So excuse me while I take my camera out onto Carnegie Avenue in Downtown Cleveland where drivers pouring off the highway blow by the 25 mile-per-hour speed limit sign.



Joe Baur is a freelance writer, filmmaker and satirist with a diverse array of interests including travel, adventure, craft beer, health, urban issues, culture and politics. He ranks his allegiances in the order of Cleveland, the state of Ohio and the Rust Belt, and enjoys a fried egg on a variety of meats. Joe has a B.A. in Mass Communication with a focus on production from Miami University. Follow him at and on Twitter @BaurJoe.




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7 Responses to “Publicly Shaming ODOT to Do the Right Thing”

  1. I TEND to agree….Hear,read what saying but the Genie is out of the bottle….THOSE THAT can influence debate,afford NOT to climb into car have advantage but for lot of folks JUST STUCK with it all….FIGHTING LOT of stuff here…scary hoodie homie droolie messes waltzing around to OTHER and just NOT a winable campaign poster can put out there…I THINK a natural level of gravity WILL occur but not at desired level…quite frankly deaths,quits,jail,rehab,low birthrates,expat out,pain of getting around,nursing homes,Web and ‘other’ IS doing the SLOWDOWN,consolidation for us….

    PRAY for $50 MILLION demoltion fund…lets face it…DEMAND,etc.NOT there…look at AVERAGE person…old,semi broke,not able to fool aorund with places,cant get loans,cant get help (unless blackjackleg type workers),etc. MAY give feeling stuff getting resolved and DONE vs.this lackluster who wants to deal with wrecks and ALL THAT ‘attracts’…. ALL of what I wrote may sound nasty,defeatist BUT is in the lexicon and to avoid all that is…

    Mr.Fitzgerald? HE HAS TO RUN on a STATEWIDE forum and CONSIDERING the *$*@*&X8 idget season of ALL kinds dealt with and inherited HE AINT gonna be going for some new ‘initiative’…. HE was SMARTEST,most capable,CLEAN,NEW candidate who wasnt OLD TIMER with ALL THE ‘BAGGAGE” of it ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL…. BETTER believe ALL coalesced around Him as this pseudo savior… I HAVE doubts on HIM making it to Gov mansion… KASICH wily and has this innate sense of bizarre compassion of brains,compassion,wily maneuvering…almost like a LBJ without the terrible Nam thing hanging in background…

  2. LOCALLY? the Big names dominate building to other….FINALLY those predisposed and able to do one thing or another are gonna do it….SUSPECT gonna have a FEW lines THAT will PROSPER,etc. THE main routes…YOUR Euclid Opportunity Corridors or Braodview rd routes or PARMAs or…

    237….LOT of commercial,industrial in there…GOT lot of temp,daylabor,etc. Fling boxes to other for biz,etc.over there…clean carpets,etc. THOSE kind of biz…if lucky have daylabor that offer up vans and charge $5 for rides….least safe,dry,warm,etc. LOT of THOSE workers work 2nd,THIRD shift and hard scrabble their way OVER there…

    OXMORONIC mess…. cant get the workers need,want CUZ semi cut off,etc. KNOWN some EMPLOYERS who go OUT AND PICK UP SAID workers…what gonna do? SERIOUSLY….

  3. WINDTURBINES to rest…..Gooood luck…. fighting it ALL….Me? NOT A OIL,gas,steel,etc.guy…BUT…I THINK FEARS of stuck with SOME funky half baked county project,etc. or other…OR viewed AS GIFT to INTERESTS in a hideous roundabout way…MAYBE sounds like a self defeating cut off nose to spite face moment BUT TRY drumming up support for windturbines to otther such… GREENIE space…lets face it…. NEARLY gone Detroitesque Destroyed hoods whose whole dynamics just aint except for odds,ends of biz,industrial survivors, drug dealers,etc.or supply labor,other to likes of UNIV.CIRCLE and so it goes….PROBABLY WHY Eastside OPPORTUNITY CORRIDOR got thru all that soo easily far as planning,support,etc. OTHER then minorities,MOST liberal redstate minded and ALL THAT WHO the blank is gonna go into THOSE hoods?! SERIOUSLY….hear the crickets chirp…GET HAULED off to loonybin…maybe NOT being ‘fair’ but… JUST saying what mortgage industry to rest WONT say….I FEEL for those folks over there…IF ONE consolation…LOW property tax bills….sure car insurance rates STINK but HEY…. drive rentawrecks….

    DO have to ask WHY the blank does it COST THAT MUCH…grant You moving mountains of dirt,etc. tearing down buildings,putting in whole storm catchbasins,fantastic road grading and all that BUT…. DOESNT cost THAT much to fling road extensions in industrial parks, a ‘comparison’…

  4. REFERENCING mr.KOVACH and his schtick as mentioned in article above… VIEWED as foo tool troll stool co opted politico pigeon to….

    LOT of BS in the city…YUPPIE gentrified hoods..when got guys willing to ATTACK one,chase one off or CITY willing to put up VALET parking signs encouraging all THAT what does THAT say…GUESS could say encourage what is
    ‘positive’ and I GUESS winner for all..(MEAL tax or least NOT a debt ladden detrius strewn wreck sitting on COUNTY rolls,etc. and some poo slobs in back bang some dinner together …). A PSEUDO oxymoronic moments for certain law enforcement and others as THEY try n deal with it all vs. just letting dozers,arsonists finish off rest of it….
    CERTAIN hoods aka Tremonts,etc. almost tooo successful for OWN good in a sense…in a warped way ANY old timer,tired struggling home owners say blank it and off to apartments,etc.vs.TRYING to heat this BARN at $800 in INSANELY high NG rates…or other…

  5. Sooo long as MR.SUCCESSFUL or MZ.successful has the McMansion wetdream fantasy thing going on and way to hang onto HOTTIE and all the rest of it and willing to travel to THEIR PROMISEDLAND just NOT a winner…. PRACTICALLy got NEAR life threatening SIGNS,GATES,barbed wire,WALLS,FENCES,etc. in likes of HINCKLEY to other chasing away anyone coming anywhere near THEIR haciendas….DONT want to find out HOW good shots they are EITHER… So FAR ABLE to pull all THAT happystuff off….ALWAYS gonna have a few like THAT….

    RATHER sadly JUST ENOUGH bs on RAPID to other where finally folks felt threatened ENOUGH and say blank all this…SOMETIMES able to reach SOME kind of accomodation with crackheads to rest but wouldnt count that…

  6. “LOSER CRUISER” if want to sum it up…I DIDNT have any issues with rta,etc.BUT…. LOOK at BATTLES around PUBLIC square far as REDO…. HATE saying THIS but STERLING just LOT MORE vocal,etc. SAD STILL have all THIS and THAT after decades worth but its THERE…. WHOLE election cycles…. NEED a Mr.RAMSAY and EVEN THAT wont be enough…

  7. GONNA take H more then a Joe Biden stopping off at RAPID repair shop to drum up support FOR…. lets see if IF can get CONVENTION CTR ‘white collar’ HIGH value visitors to use RAPID from airport TO happy land Downtown…. lets see HOW far get with a Roman&Waltermire of certain NGO ‘nonpofit’ fameclaim on THAT ‘idea’…,other what pitch a blank and go SCREAMmminnnng to CITY HALL and other and THIS ‘campaign’ and KNOW more about THEM THEN EVER care to know…

    gonna get flack and people saying a freebie to featherbedding lazy blank blank construction,union workers and all that and THEN FEARS of MORE fraud,investigations….quite frankly CONSIDERING the PAST events LAST part probably close to the truth…

    Hi there BIG GUY….

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