2015 Northeast Ohio Transportation Projects

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- With all the talk about a fiscal cliff in road and bridge spending --- Congress coming within days of letting transportation funding dry up before approving a multi-billion dollar patch to keep money flowing to the states, a federal gas tax that hasn't been raised in over 20 years – you might think there's little money for road and bridge projects. But orange barrels will go up at many sites across Northeast Ohio in 2015 – with major construction and repairs getting launched, other multi-year projects at the midpoint, and still others scheduled for completion by December. Here are nine road construction projects that motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians and transit riders will see.

Pothole push

A rugged 2014 winter led to a bumper crop of potholes popping up with the crocuses last spring. In 2015, the city of Cleveland has more than $12 million to fix nine thoroughfares with some of the most dismal pavement conditions in town. In 2015, the city of Cleveland has a plan to speed up the repair of dinged-up roads. Nine streets that have some of the worst pavement conditions in town -- potholes, ruts, cracking, deteriorated curbs -- are on the fix-it list for resurfacing. Among them: Community College Drive near Cuyahoga Community College, Harvard Road between East 93rd Street and the city line, West Boulevard between Lorain and Madison avenues, and Broadview Avenue between Brookpark and Pearl roads. Ken Silliman, Mayor Frank Jackson's chief of staff, said Cleveland normally would be able to do just a fraction of the work it has lined up.

That changed with a new push by the Northeast Ohio Regional Coordinating Agency -- which sets transportation priorities in its five-county area -- to focus on roads in local communities. Cleveland was able to use $2.5 million in city bond funds to leverage another $10 million from NOACA, Silliman said.

Biking forward

As part of the resurfacing work, Cleveland will add to the 13.7 miles of city streets that got bike striping in 2014. The city of Cleveland is on track to set up more than 80 miles of bike-friendly streets in the next few years, mostly pavement markings to denote bike-only lanes or "sharrows" that tell motorists bikes can make full use of a lane. Markings in 2015 will go on about 10 miles of city streets, including a 2.6-mile stretch of East Boulevard, and a mile of Prospect Avenue between Ontario and East 22nd streets. Most of the lanes will be for bicyclists only.  Others will be "sharrows" – signaled by a bicycle symbol and two white chevrons in the center of the travel lane, to show that a cyclist may use the full lane. Also slated for bike improvements in 2015 are Quincy Avenue between West 40th Street and Woodhill Avenue, Superior Avenue between East 18th and East 30th, Memphis Avenue between Pearl and Ridge roads, Fleet Avenue, East 22nd Street, and West 25th Street between Detroit and Lorain avenues. "I think we're on tap in 2015 to do more than we did in 2014," Cleveland Chief of Sustainability Jenita McGowan said.

Inner Belt Bridge

Work continues on the second George V. Voinovich Bridge that will carry eastbound Interstate 90 traffic over the Cuyahoga River. The Ohio Department of Transportation said recently the bridge will open in the fall of 2016, apparently dashing hopes that it would be done before 50,000 delegates, media and protesters descend on Cleveland for the Republican National Convention in the summer of 2016.

Outbound motorists leaving downtown Cleveland on Interstate 71 will face the most inconvenience tied to construction of the second George V. Voinovich Bridge in 2015. Southbound lanes will be cut from three to two for up to 200 days. The biggest impact in 2015 will be on motorists taking Interstate 71 out of downtown Cleveland. ODOT is replacing I-71 bridge decks over Interstate 490. Three I-71 lanes heading south of the city center will be narrowed to two lanes for six or seven months. I-71 North has one lane and won't change. There will be lane closures and nighttime total closures under I-90 as crews work on Ontario and East Ninth streets to build new overpasses. Ontario, between Carnegie Avenue and East 14th Street, south of the Inner Belt, will be cut to two lanes in each direction for about four months. In Tremont, there will be short-term shutdowns of Starkweather, Kenilworth, Abbey and Fairfield as ironworkers erect overpass girders.

Interstate 77 bridge deck replacement

A four-year, $27 million replacement of the bridge deck of Interstate 77 over the Cuyahoga River Valley in Independence and Cuyahoga Heights is at the midpoint. Beginning in March, look for traffic pattern changes on Interstate 77 over the Cuyahoga River Valley, as crews resume work on a four-year undertaking to replace the bridge's driving surface. Construction resumes in the spring. Traffic will be routed in what's known as a "contraflow pattern."

If you're driving north on I-77 there will be two lanes on the northbound side of the highway, with the third lane crossing over onto the southbound side. Southbound lanes will be shifted to make room for the northbound lane. Barriers will separate traffic. From early spring to late fall, the Interstate 480 eastbound ramp to I-77 North will close again. Drivers will be detoured to Ohio 176 North to I-490 East to I-77.

Pedestrian Bridge

Construction of the $25 million pedestrian bridge that will arch across the railroad tracks near Lake Erie and connect the Shoreway to North Coast Harbor will get a wintry start.

A rendering depicts the cable-stayed design option for the 900-foot-long pedestrian bridge on Cleveland's lakefront devised by Boston architect Miguel Rosales and Parsons Brinckerhoff.
Rosales + Partners, Parsons Brinckerhoff. Crews will be out in February, with the bridge to be ready by  April 2016, in time for the RNC convention, according to Cuyahoga County, the project manager. The span will extend 900 feet from Cleveland's downtown Mall and over the rail lines to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Great Lakes Science Center and FirstEnergy Stadium.

Shovel in the ground for long-planned Opportunity Corridor

Major work begins early in the year on the first leg of the Opportunity Corridor, the $331 million project to link Interstate 490 with University Circle.
After years of discussion, construction gets underway in 2015 on the 35-mph Opportunity Corridor, the 3.2-mile avenue linking the stub end of Interstate 490 with University Circle. Project director Marie Kittredge spoke about the $331 million road at a community meeting in August.

The $20.9 million initial phase will widen one mile of 105th Street from Quebec Avenue to north of Chester Avenue. Look for a string of temporary street closures. For example, East 105th Street will be closed to southbound traffic for a while between Carnegie and Quincy avenues, with one lane of northbound traffic kept open. Detour routes will be posted. ODOT doesn't have exact timing yet on when streets will be shut and reopened.

Reconstruction and safety improvements along the West Shoreway

Crews will replace pavement on the West Shoreway between Lake Avenue/Clifton Boulevard and the Main Avenue Bridge, including the ramps to and from West Boulevard. The project adds an eastbound exit ramp off the Shoreway to West 73rd Street and Edgewater Park. A multipurpose trail will go in along the Shoreway from West Boulevard to West 28th Street. The $40 million project includes safety improvements such as realigning the Main Avenue westbound exit ramp to West 28th Street. One thing is for sure -- the West 28th Street entrance to the Shoreway for drivers heading to downtown will close for good in 2015, at a yet-to-be-determined date.

Pleasant Valley Road Widening

Work gets going in the spring to expand Pleasant Valley and Bagley roads from two to five lanes, including a center turn lane. The heavily used corridor is being widened between York and Pearl roads. The $23 million project should be done by the fall of 2017.

Ohio Turnpike

Crews replaced pavement along five-mile, eastbound sections of the tollway in Cuyahoga and Sandusky counties in 2014. Westbound lanes in the same sections will be done in 2015. The Ohio Turnpike will spend more than $50 million this year redoing the pavement on several five-mile stretches of the 241-mile tollway.  The turnpike is also  tearing up and replacing five-mile sections of base pavement in Lorain and Trumbull counties in the eastbound lanes. The projects will cost an estimated $57 million.

Allison Grant, The Plain Dealer