UPDATE- Cleveland Innerbelt Project

Submitted by Ed Hauser on Mon, 05/22/2006 - 14:18.

Bridge in France

The ODOT Cleveland Innerbelt Project's- Project Development Process (PDP) & Public Involvement Process (PIP) seem to be in limbo since the last public meeting on November 17, 2005.  ODOT's and City of Cleveland's PDP & PIP Schedule has not been followed and appears to be five (5) months behind schedule.  The "Alternatives Report" and the "Economic Impact Analysis" were scheduled to be completed in December 2005, for public review and comment.  THE REPORT AND ANALYSIS - DO NOT EXIST AT THIS TIME.  Even though the general public has been effectively removed from the public processes, a lot of activity has been going on since November 2005.  Below is a brief update on some of those activities.  Please visit www.neobridge.net to participate in this community discussion and to get the latest updates on OUR Cleveland Innerbelt Project.

ODOT Project Development Process (PDP) and Public Involvement Process (PIP)

2001- ?: ODOT develops projects using a Project Development Process (14- Steps) from concept to construction.  The PDP includes a way for the public to participate in its projects called the Public Involvement Process (PIP).  At this time, ODOT claims to be at Step #6 of the PDP and is moving into the National Environmental Protection Act's (NEPA) Environmental Assessment (EA) process and the National Historic Preservation Act's (NHPA) Section 106 process for historic property assessments.

The last public engagement was in November 2005 and the next public engagement was scheduled for July 2006, but has been postponed until further notice.  The public comments deadline expired in January 2006 for ODOT's “Alternatives Report” and "Economic Impact Analysis."  Public comments must be extended for at least 30-60 days after ODOT's report and analysis are released and public has been given proper notice.

The Last Time ODOT / City of Cleveland "Updated" its PDP & PIP Schedule

November 17, 2005: ODOT and the city of Cleveland released a schedule of the remaining PDP through the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) approval of the “Preferred Alternatives,” in February 2007.  This document also indicated how the public input correlated to this decision making process. 

The schedule stated that an “Alternatives Report” and an “Economic Impact Analysis” (for the Trench segment only), were to be completed in December 2005.  The Alternatives Report does not exist and Economic Impact Analysis is in draft form and has not been publicly released.  The public comment period to comment on the Alternatives Report and Economic Impact Analysis expired in January 2006. 

The project PDP & PIP Schedule has not been followed, and the general public is unable to participate as ODOT and City of Cleveland promised us.  An updated PDP schedule is necessary for the public to know when and how we can begin participating again in the Innerbelt Plan process, before it's too late.  The project and documentation is nearly five-months behind schedule, based on this obsolete ODOT/City of Cleveland PDP & PIP Schedule that was release in November 2005.

At this time, the general public cannot understand how and when their input will be used for the Innerbelt project, until the schedule is updated and released.  It is urgent that ODOT and the City of Cleveland re-engage the citizens and taxpayers funding this project and consider our input - IMMEDIATELY!
ODOT Hires Innerbelt Bridge Consultants

December 14, 2005: ODOT announces the selection of Michael Baker, Jr., Inc. to conduct a bridge type study for the Central Viaduct Bridge in Cleveland.  Representatives from ODOT and FHWA continue to say no decision for the bridge alignment has been officially approved.  However, they have NOT reconsidered the Southern Bridge Alignment Alternative that was invalidly removed from further consideration.  The southern bridge alternative includes a reconfigured "Interchange" area.

PLEASE REMEMBER, THIS MEANS THAT THE PUBLIC HAS NOT BEEN ALLOWED TO CONSIDER ANY ALTERNATIVE TO ODOT's "RECOMMENDED" BILLION DOLLAR INNERBELT BRIDGE PROJECT!

Undocumented Innerbelt Bridge Endorsements from Public Officials

January 23, 2006: A meeting was held at Cleveland City Hall with Director Proctor, U.S. Senator Voinovich, U.S. Representative Tubbs Jones, U.S. Representative Kucinich, Mayor Jackson, Councilman Cimperman and other representatives from ODOT.  The outcome of the meeting, as reported in the daily newspaper, was an endorsement for the ODOT's Northern Bridge Alignment Alternative by all the public officials.  However, there is no written or documented endorsement from any of the public officials.

This undocumented endorsement was made week before the public comment deadline.  The public officials could not have made a logical endorsement without ODOT's Alternatives Report completed and without their constituent's comments for ODOT's “Recommended” Alternatives.

Accelerated Construction Technology Transfer Workshop

February 21-23, 2006: ODOT and the FHWA conducted three days of workshops with local and national transportation planners to get recommendations on the Innerbelt project and how to expedite it.  For the Innerbelt Bridge segment, the “far north” bridge alignment was recommended because it would allow for another bridge to be built between the far north and existing bridges. 

However, the Southern Bridge Alignment Alternative, which was invalidly removed from further consideration by ODOT, was not analyzed by the national bridge experts.  This is because ODOT and FWHA did not present the Southern Bridge Alignment Alternative to them as an option.

Premature Proposal by City Architecture, EcoCity Cleveland, ParkWorks, and Cleveland Public Art

April 6, 2006: City Architecture in association with EcoCity Cleveland, ParkWorks, and Cleveland Public Art submitted a proposal to ODOT for planning and urban design services. As stated in the proposal, “this proposal will allow the assembled team to utilize its expertise so that whatever final recommendations are reached relative to the “trench” design, aesthetic and neighborhood development issues are maximized as the Innerbelt project moves forward into its next planning phase...”

This proposal is premature because the promised "Alternatives Report" and "Economic Impact Analysis" (for the Trench segment only), has not been released for public comment.  After the release and public notification of the Report and Analysis, the public must have at least 30-60 days to comment, and then ODOT must analyze those comments and issue a report on the public comments.  It is unknown at this time if ODOT released a "Request for Proposals" (RFP), accepted other bids and approved a contract for this proposal.

Broadway Mills Company Building and Central Viaduct Remnants Landmarks Nomination

April 6, 2006: A Cleveland Landmarks nomination for the Broadway Mills Company Building and the Central Viaduct Remnants was submitted to the Cleveland Landmarks Commission (CLC).  It was put on the agenda for April 13, but was tabled until ODOT could give its presentation on its federal historic review process.  The CLC unanimously voted to nominate the building and viaduct as Cleveland Landmarks.  The next step is for the city planning commission and city council to approve the landmarks designation.

Premature Innerbelt Trench Decision

April 21, 2006: Mayor Jackson announced “conclusions regarding ODOT Innerbelt Plan.”  He said that the city worked intensively with ODOT and stakeholders to find the best approach to rebuilding the Innerbelt.  However, final determination on this matter cannot be made until the next phase on the Innerbelt project, which includes a more detailed traffic analysis.

The city and ODOT have also established a working group to make recommendations on the design of the of the proposed Innerbelt bridge.  Upcoming meetings will also include representatives from community organizations, designers, and transportation and economic development professionals. 

Once again, the public officials could not have made a logical decision without ODOT's "Alternatives Report" and "Economic Impact Analysis" completed and without their constituent's comments on the report and analysis.

Kent State Urban Design Collaborative and the American Institute of Architects Workshop

May 19 & 26, 2006: Architects, planners, landscape architects, and urban planners are invited to join CUDC staff and students to visualize conditions created by the new Innerbelt and looking at design approaches to them.  The results will be made available digitally on the CUDC web site, integrated with a discussion forum at the “www.neobridge.net” and “Green City Blue Lake” web portals.

National Historic Preservation Act – Section 106 Historic Review Process
May 24, 2006: First meeting is to discuss the Section 106 process and what it means to be a consulting party.  The Area of Potential Effects (APE) map will be displayed and comments solicited on the proposed APE.  The Phase I Historic/Architecture Survey is not complete and has not been reviewed by Ohio State Historic Preservation Office (OSHPO).  Once OSHPO has had an opportunity to review the Phase I Survey, copies will be forwarded to all identified consulting parties with a 30 day comment period.  The Phase I Survey will be discussed at the next Section 106 consultation meeting.  The May 24th meeting will address the steps in the Section 106 process and when consulting parties may expect to participate in consultation.
Gordon Proctor, Director of ODOT, to Speak at the City Club of Cleveland
June 7, 2006: “Driving into the Future: The Innerbelt Project” is the title for his speech.  What opportunities does this new project present?  How can state and local government work together to create a brighter and more exciting future for Northeast Ohio?  How will the project change the look of Cleveland a decade from now?  Gordon Proctor, director of ODOT, will present the plan and discuss these issues.

Gordon Proctor, Director of ODOT, to Speak at NOACA's 7th Annual Summit
June 9, 2006: Gordon Proctor will be giving the Luncheon Address at the Summit with this year's theme, “Exploring Our Region's Potential," a discussion about economic development in Northeast Ohio.