Welcome to Clevelanders for Transportation Equity

african_american_family_bike_ridingWe are a grassroots group of citizens that opposes the $331 million “Opportunity Corridor” road project proposed for Cleveland’s east side. We believe that there are far better uses for this huge sum of money than a three-mile traffic funnel designed to extend the highway system to the Cleveland Clinic.

Any project that costs $331 million should do more than speed suburban commuters, it should improve quality of life for Clevelanders, it should improve our environment, it should improve public health and social cohesion. This project, we believe, fails this test and does not meet the values of Clevelanders.

We would like to see the project improved to provide some benefit to Cleveland’s large transit-dependent population, to provide some benefit for the condition of Cleveland’s existing roads, to avoid displacing families and businesses. Or we would like to see it stopped altogether.

This website is designed to provide more information about who we are, what our complaints are, and what you can do to get involved.

The Ohio Department of Transportation is Completely Tone Deaf

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The Ohio Department of Transportation is pursuing a highly sensitive project in very poor Cleveland neighborhoods. They are planning to seize dozens of people’s homes, people who have been oppressed and exploited by public agencies for generations.

Who does the Ohio Department of Transportation send, in its infinite wisdom and cultural sensitivity, to address this crowd? A white male engineer, of course!

They couldn’t find someone who has any background in planning, or community affairs or sociology. Someone with even a tenuous connection to the community?

How silly to suggest that when they make a point not to even think about that stuff — how communities function, how people living nearby are impacted by their projects. ODOT has defined their jobs as moving cars on roadways. What happens around those roadways as a result is none of their concern. (Why even hold community meetings, in that case. It’d be easier to just dictate directly from your offices in the suburbs.)

So why wouldn’t ODOT send a white male engineer to stand in front of people whose homes are being seized and talk to them about vehicle throughput, as if that is at all relevant to the people that live immediately around their plans?

This agency is truly a dinosaur. What an infuriating and retrograde way to approach a project of this sensitive nature in 2014. Someone should turn this into performance art or theater.

 

The Father of Equity Planning on the “Opportunity Corridor”

In a recent Interview by Michael McGraw in the Cleveland Street Chronicle, Norman Krumholz, Planning Director of the City from 1969-1979 and professor of Urban Affairs at CSU, was asked what could be added to the Opportunity Corridor to benefit public transit users. Krumholz replied:

They could use the present configuration so that bus lines would be able to transverse the present proposal. Or, better yet, they could forget about the Opportunity Corridor entirely, and use existing streets, and connect more closely with existing public transit, and redevelopment efforts in the existing neighborhoods.

We Could Fix Every Road in Cleveland for the Price of the “Opportunity Corridor”

Potholes Problems? We Could Fix Every Road in Cleveland for the Price of the “Opportunity Corridor”

RELEASE: Clevelanders for Transportation Equity

Opportunitycorridor.com

CTEcleveland@gmail.com

Watch out! Spring has arrived in northeast Ohio, and with it an awe-inspiring new batch of potholes. But there’s no quick fix on the way for harried northeast Ohio drivers. In the coming weeks, cities like Cleveland will send out crews to patch up the craters that will next year evolve into even wider, more intimidating gaps. The local funds to rebuild the roads simply aren’t available.

Meanwhile, the city of Cleveland, in partnership with the state of Ohio, is pursuing a new road project, the “Opportunity Corridor,” that will cost $331 million, not including financing costs. For the price of that single three-mile road, we could fix every road in Cleveland, according to Mayor Frank Jackson’s own estimate.

According to an article published June 4th in the Plain Dealer, the city of Cleveland has $300 million in repaving needs. But the city only has about $26 million a year to devote to the cause.

Why would the city of Cleveland devote $331 million to a three-mile road while being woefully unable to meet current maintenance obligations? Well, the short answer is because the “Opportunity Corridor” is going to be funded in large part by the state of Ohio, with money borrowed from future turnpike revenues. And the state of Ohio – despite its stated commitment to a “fix-it-first” policy for infrastructure – will not allow local communities to use any of the $1.5 billion borrowed to repair existing roads, only fund new projects.

That means there won’t be any relief for drivers coming from the state. Instead we’re using a third of a billion in borrowed money to add to the list of roads we can’t afford to fix. In addition, debt assumed to fund the project will reduce our future resources for repairs. These policy failures help ensure northeast Ohio’s roads will be in terrible shape for years to come.

The Possibility Corridor: What if We Downgraded I-490?

One of our group members, Christopher Lohr, developed this concept for how the design of the  “Opportunity Corridor” could come closer to the rhetoric. Check it out and weigh in in the comments.

I-490, the 24 year old stub of a highway between I-90 and E55th, has seen recent interest as a connector via the proposed Opportunity Corridor. Advocates for the Opportunity Corridor cite its value as an “Urban Boulevard” in contrast to the limited access highways that had been blocked by the “highways revolts” of the 1960s. With this is mind, it seems appropriate to reconsider I-490′s role in our region.Having been meant to merely form one link in a continuous limited access network of highways, I-490 never fulfilled its original purpose. As such, it provides an interesting opportunity for redevelopment as a parkway or boulevard that would more appropriately segue into the urban boulevard concept of the Opportunity Corridor.

For this reason we propose that once the second Innerbelt Bridge is completed that I-490 be shutdown over its full length. Note that construction of the Opportunity Corridor has already proposed closing the segment between I-77 and E 55th. Once closed, this expansive highway can be reworked within the existing paved right-of-way to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists – a new active transportation east-west connection thoughtfully placed in a parkway setting. This link would serve to provide important connections to the Towpath Trail, Morgana Run Trail (via the proposed Downtown Connector Trail), and the proposed Kingsbury Run Greenway, not to mention University Circle and beyond. Moreover, this realignment would set the stage for a reduced footprint through the future deconstruction of certain highway-style interchanges currently serving the corridor – reducing long-term maintenance obligations and opening up land for development and/or greenspace. These changes may also help reduce costs on the opportunity corridor itself by eliminating the need for an underpass at E 55th, and the property acquisition and displacement that this will accompany.
The cross sections, show, from west to east how the corridor might change while still accommodating truck and car traffic along it. The overview map shows how this reimagined I-490 would interact with both existing and proposed infrastructure.
Writing and renders by Christopher Lohr

Transit Oriented is a Misnomer for Opportunity Corridor Plans

This article explains the difference between transit oriented development and transit adjacent development. By these three measures, I don’t think you could call any development planned by the Opportunity Corridor transit oriented development. This half-truth has been repeated by too many prominent Cleveland leaders. My understanding is that density near the corridor will be about one job per acre, one thirtieth of the density required for TOD.

This study utilizes a minimum benchmark definition of TOD that accounts for density, land use diversity and walkable design.  All stations were categorized on a TAD – TOD spectrum based on the following point-based system:

  • Greater than 30 jobs or residents per gross acre = 1 point
  • Not having 100% of land uses as either residential or commercial = 1 point
  • Average block size less than 6.5 acres= 1 point

Each station was assigned a score from 0 – 3 points and then categorized as follows:

  • TAD = 0 or 1 points

  • Hybrid = 2 point

  • TOD = 3 points

It looks like this study would consider the planned development at best transit adjacent, not the best practice.

How ODOT Expands Sprawl, Worsens Inequality

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This is how your tax money is being spent (wasted). Widening suburban roads to facilitate Walmarts and one-acre lots — you know, subsidizing the inefficient lifestyles of the region’s relatively wealthy — while the central city’s roads become increasingly dangerous due to lack of repair. A few seconds of congestion a day in some sprawling suburb? ODOT’s all over it. (And then the new congestion facilitated by the road widening a few miles farther out.) Pot holes that threaten your life in low-income communities? Not their problem! This is how the state uses your money to widen inequality in the region. It’s not an accident, and it’s part of the reason our major cities frequently appear on Forbes most miserable lists. Thanks, ODOT! Well done!

Northeast Ohio may be shrinking fast, but there will always be roads farther into the suburbs to widen as people continue to leave the central city. Afterall, why would ODOT do any maintenance when they can continue expanding our maintenance liabilities forever?