Long time critics railed against the Ohio Department of Transportation's plans to revamp the main interstate highway connection through downtown Cleveland. ideastream's Bill Rice has more on the tensions surrounding the inner belt.
Speaking on 90.3's call in program The Sound of Ideas, Cuyahoga County Planning Director Paul Alsenas and Plain Dealer architecture critic Steven Litt took ODOT to task for its planning of a revamped inner belt. Alsenas called the agency incompetent, and its overall approach to the project wrong from the get-go.
Alsenas: "85 percent of the traffic that goes through that corridor is destined to go in and out of downtown. Essentially, this interstate highway operates as a local feeder to the downtown of the region. And the response that ODOT provided was essentially to serve mostly the 15 percent that's going through and outsourcing traffic and other issues onto the city streets without actually working to develop a whole robust system of streets."
The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt attacked the part of the plan for a new inner belt bridge, which he said was done without enough consultation with local officials and ignores some critical city concerns.
Litt: "I'm afraid we're going to have a big self-inflicted wound that is going to harm this city for 50 to 100 years. This is really big stuff."
Regina: "Bonnie, what would you say to this?"
Teeuwen: "Well, I obviously disagree."
That's Bonnie Teeuwen, ODOT's District 12 Director. She defended the agency, saying there was and is adequate consultation on the project, including the bridge design.
Teeuwen: "Why do these issues take so long, we started ten years ago. Because gentlemen like Paul Alsenas brings these issues to us, and we look at them and we look at them in detail and we look at the engineering part of it and we do that in detail, and we look at the engineering part of it, and it takes time to do that. So we did look at it, in spite of what he thinks."
Bill Rice, 90.3.