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.

Scene Features Investigation on Opportunity Corridor Process

Last summer, while listening to the radio and dodging potholes on East 93rd and East 116th streets, I heard an announcement about an unexpected source of funding, through Ohio Turnpike funds, to pour dough into the Opportunity Corridor. Gov. John Kasich was touting the benefits for the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospital — the road project would connect I-490 to the University Circle area — and gushed that the OC would “lend hope and economic development to battered neighborhoods” — the exact ones I lived in and drove through.

Meanwhile, business leaders across town and the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the region’s chamber of commerce representing large business interests which had lobbied for the corridor, pushed for more specifics on when funds would arrive, anxiously awaiting groundbreaking to happen as soon as possible.

I wondered: What exactly was the Opportunity Corridor? How was it planned? Why were business leaders among the loudest voices championing the cause? How was it sold to residents (some of whom were going to be displaced by construction) and what promises were made? And, most importantly, were the problems of Cleveland’s east side really easily solved by simply building a new road?

Read more in Scene.

The Unchecked Power of the Greater Cleveland Partnership

This letter to the editor was published in the Plain Dealer recently.

Regarding the hiring of Marie Kittredge to lead neighborhood planning for the  Opportunity Corridor (“Opportunity Corridor recruits longtime neighborhood advocate as project director for boulevard’s development activity,” June 6), I am trying to wrap my head around the idea the Greater Cleveland Partnership  has hired someone to lead a neighborhood planning process. Where does this private nonprofit organization’s authority to lead public planning processes come from?

Regardless of the source of the funding, wouldn’t this position be better housed in an agency with some direct democratic public accountability? Isn’t that what we
mean when we say this is about “neighborhoods” — community empowerment?

Then there’s the whole fact this hiring was announced in a newspaper whose publisher serves as the “co-chair” of the project as a representative of GCP.

Angie Schmitt,

Cleveland

Where does GCP’s authority to lead a public planning process come from? I still don’t have an answer to that question. I don’t even know who to ask.

Institutional Barriers to Addressing Neighborhood Level Public Health Concerns

This is EXACTLY what our group has experienced with the Opportunity Corridor. From a study by Carolyn McAndrews and Justine Marcus at the University of Colorado Denver:

Regional planning and growth politics affected community-based groups’ ability to bring local public health concerns into the planning process in two major ways. First, federal and state transportation planning requirements, particularly those associated with environmental impact assessment, controlled the forum for public participation, and constrained the types of concerns that could be discussed in the forum (e.g., housing and community revitalization issues related to the arterial were not within the scope of the official process). Second, regional transportation problems trumped local concerns in the decision-making processes for the arterial’s design (a process that includes input from elected officials, municipality and county staff members, project planners and consultants, etc.) because the local concerns did not have sufficient political support. Although the neighbors achieved some incremental design changes through this process, the broader issue of the negative impacts of traffic on the local community was not incorporated into the reconstruction project.
And:
Deakin (2007) contrasted the mainstream policy agendas of regional transportation agencies and the agendas of environmental justice groups in the San Francisco Bay Area and found that “not a single one of [the mainstream] issues or investment proposals was listed in the top five by any of the [environmental justice] groups or interview respondents.” Mainstream regional agendas focused on reducing traffic congestion and sprawl with highway and transit investments, whereas environmental justice agendas focused on problems of limited transit service at night, the high cost of car ownership and transit fares, pedestrian safety, and the noise, emissions, and traffic problems in neighborhoods.
And:
The typical planning processes for neighborhoods, corridors, and projects may come too late in the process to have the power to reframe debates about local-regional development conflicts.
The one difference is our regional actors don’t seem too concerned about sprawl and using transit to mitigate it.

Akron Leader: We Can’t Have Better Transit and Spend Hundreds of Millions on New Highways

“I think we are fooling ourselves if we think that we can do things like spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to widen I-271, widen I-77, and build the Opportunity Corridor, and simultaneously make transit more attractive and viable.”

Jason Segedy, head of AMATS — Akron’s Metropolitan Planning Organization — saying what leaders in Cleveland have been too afraid to say.

More here.

Akron Leader: W Can’t have Better Transit AND Spent Hundreds of Millions on New Highways

“I think we are fooling ourselves if we think that we can do things like spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to widen I-271, widen I-77, and build the Opportunity Corridor, and simultaneously make transit more attractive and viable.”

Jason Segedy, head of AMATS — Akron’s Metropolitan Planning Organization — saying what leaders in Cleveland have been too afraid to say.

More here.

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.