As though such things heralded the clamor and fandom of, i.e, the National Basketball Association or something, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and ODOT Director Jerry Wray officially kicked off “the 2015 construction season” earlier this week. The focal point and location for the announcement led a flock of reporters to Northeast Ohio’s own Opportunity Corridor on Monday morning.
In all, the upcoming season (Go team!) totals $2.4 billion in projects around the state. Cleveland plays host to one of the biggest.
To begin the Opportunity Corridor business, crews have closed East 105th Street to southbound traffic between Carnegie and Quincy. That’ll last for some 75 days. The whole project — which opportunistically connects University Circle with the I-490/East 55th Street junction — will take place in phases through 2017 (sorry, RNC).
All told, we’re talking a $331-million, 3.2-mile roadway
here — a funnel, as it were, from the southern and western suburbs to the commercial glamor and healthcare hub surrounding the Cleveland Clinic and University Circle.
ODOT held a number of open house-style meetings over the past several years to solicit some level of community feedback. Dissent is pretty well entrenched across the region, though the Opportunity Corridor PR machine is louder than hell and ensuring everyone that this is going to be terrific.
In case you feel unheard (which you likely are), there’s still time to send in comments about the project’s seven bridges, which will either run over the roadway or concurrently as part of the actual route. Comments on that note are due by March 19.
According to ODOT: “As design progresses, other enhancement elements including public plazas and public art will be coordinated in the future. These components will provide an opportunity to include specific neighborhood identity.” Note the subliminal reference, for whatever it’s worth.
At least one problem with that bit about neighborhood identity, though, is that the Opportunity Corridor as an idea and as a physical thing actually sets out to impose its own identity — and that of its public-private backers — onto the neighborhoods it’s carving up. It’s best to stop pretending that the people of Cleveland, the residents living along this route particularly, are anything but an afterthought caught up in this gargantuan boondoggle.
Read more: Opportunity Nowhere: The Beginner's Guide to Being Outraged Over the $330-Million Opportunity Corridor