The Worst of Cleveland: I-480

The Worst of Cleveland: I-480
Photo by Doug Kerr/FlickrCC

Let us collectively rise as a unified region, setting aside petty squabbles and differences, to bestow upon I-480 — that gaudy asphalt hellscape born of, and then turned enabler of, sprawl — the double birds it so richly deserves.

The 41-mile stretch of aggravation, which delivers both physical and psychic injury on a daily basis, is but one link in Northeast Ohio's vast network of ever-expanding, ever more expensive to maintain highways, but it is universally acknowledged as the worst.

 The Valley View Bridge, for instance, carries about 180,000 vehicles per day across the Cuyahoga River and the Ohio & Erie Canal. And even before work began last year to replace the enormous 4,155-foot bridge, one of the state's busiest, the stretch of freeway between I-77 and I-271 had issues. Major issues. 

 Driving across the Valley View Bridge and seeing its giant concrete barriers and chain link fence is akin to traveling through a war zone. The freeway often resembles a parking lot as cars regularly back up and slow to a crawl at rush hour, whether because of sun glare, congestion, delayed contractor work, all three, or none of them at all. It doesn't matter whether you're traveling east or west, it's viscerally atrocious. Throw in some tricky and poorly designed mergers for some additional mayhem.

 Better signage at key areas — as you head east past I-77 and as you head west and approach Broadway — would go a long way toward helping alleviate congestion and upping safety, but that, of course, would ratchet down the Mad Max feel of the whole enterprise, which seems to be what ODOT is going for.

 Construction work on the Valley View Bridge, which now has in its mid-section an ominous giant steel structure that looks like "The Claw" that U2 used on its 360 Tour, has only made matters worse. Oh, and all of the construction won't be done until 2024. It never ends!

Fuck off, 480. Just fuck the fuck off forever. — Jeff Niesel

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