The city of Cleveland has been up-and-coming for going on two decades now, and a significant contributor to this growth and enrichment has been smart investment in infrastructure—investment that sets community needs as priority one.
“The Lakefront West Project was a partnership between the Ohio DOT and the city of Cleveland,” Amanda McFarland, Ohio DOT public information officer, told Roads & Bridges. “It involves the conversion of S.R. 2/U.S. 6/20 between Clifton Boulevard and the Main Avenue bridge from a freeway to a low-speed boulevard to establish multimodal links to the lakefront and nearby neighborhoods. Edgewater Park has a nice beach, a lot of park space for people, but the railroad tracks in this area form a barrier for the community to access the lake.”
One aspect of this project was to implement a grade separation taking West 73rd Street underneath the tracks and connecting it to the new boulevard and Edgewater Park, which in effect connects all communities south of the park.
This was a long-term, multi-phased project that began in 2006; phased construction has been ongoing since 2010 with the pedestrian tunnels, then moving in 2013 on to West 73rd Street, and now finally to mainline work which concluded this year.
“We initially wanted a low-speed, signalized boulevard, but a traffic analysis showed that with approximately 40,000 ADT, there would be a major backup as a result, so we went back to the drawing board and came up with a boulevard with low-speed entrance and exit ramps,” Kirsten Bowen, P.E., project manager for Michael Baker International, told Roads & Bridges. “ODOT and the city came to an agreement on that. We also were able to provide bus service access for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. There used to be no stops on this corridor; now there is a stop at Edgewater Park and West 73rd—basically in the center of this area. And a multipurpose trail hooks up to another east-end city trail here.”
Eight ramps and 15 intersections were reconfigured along the corridor to facilitate the conversion of this freeway into a pedestrian-friendly six-lane boulevard. Challenges along the way included the relocation of an 84-in. interceptor sewer, as well as 10 fiber-optic lines along the railroad.
Now that work is complete, the effect of this new, vibrant lakefront access is already being felt. “The project has really facilitated growth and helped connect the neighborhoods with the Lakefront,” Bowen said. “We’ve gone from not a lot of people living downtown to a very vibrant downtown; there is now a nine-month waiting list for apartments in some areas, where it is up to 95% occupied.”
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Owner: Ohio DOT (District 12)
Designer: Michael Baker International
Contractor: The Great Lakes Construction Co.
Cost: $98 million
Length: 2.25 miles
Completion Date: July 30, 2018