CLEVELAND — The Ohio Department of Transportation is still planning on moving forward with the next phase of the Cleveland Innerbelt Modernization Plan, which includes the reconstruction of the Interstate 90 corridor from East 9th Street to Carnegie Avenue with construction expected to begin in 2025.
Officially known as Group 3 Part A, the $220 million rebuild aims to improve I-90 eastbound and westbound in the central interchange area from East 9th Street to Carnegie Avenue. The East 22nd Street and Carnegie Avenue bridges over I-90 will also be replaced, according to ODOT’s description of the project.
“We’re working with the city right now on East 22nd [overpass] and what aesthetics can we do there. We want to make sure we get this right moving forward,” said Brent Kovacs from ODOT District 12. “You really have to look at the history of that whole area. It’s an area that was built 40-50 years ago that was not built for the amount of traffic it sees today.”
The Innerbelt Modernization Plan began in earnest with the construction of the east and westbound sides of the new Innerbelt Bridge. So far, more than $600 million has been invested in the heavily-traveled corridor with billions of dollars worth of additional improvements planned in the coming years and decades.
Kovacs said the planned improvements from East 9th Street to Carnegie Avenue are expected to go out for bid next year with construction beginning in 2025.
“The whole area really needs pavement replaced. It needs widening. It needs new bridges and new access points that can handle more traffic from areas that we didn’t originally plan for,” Kovacs said.
In the short term, the City of Cleveland is seeking $1.6 million in federal grant money as part of a feasibility study that aims to identify ways of reconnecting the Central neighborhood to downtown. after aims to reconnect the Central neighborhood to downtown, more than 50 years after it was bisected by the construction of I-90.
In October 2022, the city applied for a planning grant through the US Department of Transportation’s Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program, an initiative created through the 2022 Infrastructure Bill. The pilot program intends to address connectivity barriers posed by I-90 and by reconnecting the Central, Midtown and St. Clair Superior neighborhoods with downtown and Lake Erie.
According to grant application documents, the planning study would review multiple planning efforts that have analyzed multi-modal traffic patterns; land use adjacent to I-90; identify possible fixes and determine the best possible location. The planning study will also assess whether freeway caps are feasible in those locations. The study area stretches from East 22nd Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.