OHIO DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION NOT FUNDING UNNECESSARY $25 MILLION LAKEFRONT BRIDGE PROJECT IN CLEVELAND, OHIO

Submitted by Satinder P S Puri on Sat, 01/03/2015 - 00:36.

OHIO DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION NOT FUNDING UNNECESSARY $25 MILLION LAKEFRONT PEDESTRIAN AND BICYCLE BRIDGE PROJECT IN CLEVELAND, OHIO!

The proposed bridge will connect the northern tip of Mall C with the North Coast Harbor – when we already have three existing crossings  -- all this in a city with a 37% poverty rate. The bridge is scheduled to be ready in time for the Republican National Convention in 2016 
 
While the State of Ohio is contributing $5 million to the $25 million Lakefront Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge -- a taxpayer-funded project, the Ohio Dept. of Transportation is not the source for the funds.
 
This was confirmed in an e-mail received from District 12 of ODOT which includes Cuyahoga, Lake, & Geauga counties.
 
Which State of Ohio Department or Agency is contributing the $5 million funds is not yet known.
 
What is also not known – is why the bridge is being built in the first place -- when we have three existing crossings of which two are fully operational: West 3rd Street and East 9th Street.
 
Both the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County are contributing $10 million each.
 
The proposed bridge will connect Mall C in downtown to the North Coast Harbor and will go over will go over existing railroad tracks, roads, and the Cleveland Memorial Shoreway.
 
Construction is scheduled to start in February and completed in time before the Republicans arrive in June 2016.
 
E-MAIL FROM ODOT, DISTRICT 12:
 
On December 23, 2014, and e-mail was sent to 
 
Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson; 
 
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald;
 
Cuyahoga County Executive-elect Armond D. Budish; and
 
Ohio Governor John R. Kasich re. the $25 million bridge project.
 
Each elected official was requested to provide a copy:

a. Of the engineering justification that was used by their entity (City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, or State of Ohio) prior to agreeing to contribute their share towards the $25 million project considering that we already have two existing crossings: West 3rd Street and East 9th Street.
 
b. Of the procedure adopted by their entity to approve publicly-funded projects.
 
On December 30, 2014, a response from the Public Information Officer of District 12 stated:
 
“Thank you for contacting the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).  We are in receipt of your letter regarding the construction of a new pedestrian bridge over the Shoreway.
 
Your questions are best directed to the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County - as you have already done.  ODOT does not have any involvement with these plans or the funding because there is no Federal or state gas tax revenue being used for the project.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
THREE OPTIONS:
The slide shows renderings for the three options for the proposed 1,300 foot long bridge which follows a curved alignment:
A Cable-Stayed Bridge, An Arch Bridge, and A Suspension Bridge.
The Cable-Stayed Bridge is the preferred option.
 
 
PENDING RESPONSES:
A response is pending from Mayor Jackson, newly elected County Executive Budish, and Governor Kasich to questions raised and information requested in my e-mail of December 23, 2014.
 
EXISTING CROSSINGS:
At present we have three existing crossings of which two are fully operational: West 3rd Street and East 9th Street. The third crossing (opposite the Browns Stadium), at present is closed, and uses steps to walk down – and then a bridge to get across. All three crossings use a combination of a bridge over the railroad tracks/roads and pedestrian walkways.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
JUSTIFICATION FOR NEW BRIDGE:
The proposed $25 million Lakefront Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge is a taxpayer-funded project: $10 million each from the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, and the balance of $5 million from the State of Ohio.
 
Public projects should be justified based on needs.  A justification would include a traffic study that would show that the existing bridges (East 9th and West 3rd) cannot handle the volume of pedestrians and bicyclists in the area and thus a new bridge would be needed.
 
On 11-10-14, an e-mail requesting a copy of the traffic study data that was used to justify the need for constructing the proposed bridge was sent to Jeremy Paris, Executive Director, Group Plan Commission.
 
On 11-13-14, I spoke at the Public Meeting organized by Cuyahoga County’s Department of Public Works. My topic was justification for the new bridge.
 
I again requested a copy of the traffic study data. 
 
I noted that Norman Krumholz (former member, Cleveland City Planning Commission, and former Prof. in the Levin College of Urban Affairs) – an opponent of the Bridge Project – raised a similar concern – that there was no justification for the new bridge.
 
I asked: “What rationale was used to justify a new bridge when we already have three existing crossings – of which two are operational?” 
 
So far I have not received any response.
 
At the 11-13-14 Public Meeting, Mr. Paris confirmed that no traffic study had been performed. However, Mr. Paris has not responded, in writing, to the e-mail of 11-10-14.
 
OBJECTION FROM NORMAN KRUMHOLZ – FORMER MEMBER, CLEVELAND CITY PLANNING COMMISSION:
 
Letter to the Editor, The Plain Dealer, Sept. 12, 2014
 
Note: Norman Krumholz is a former member of the Cleveland City Planning Commission, and 
former Prof. in the Levin College of Urban Affairs) 
 
Your Aug. 23 article extolling the planned $25 million pedestrian bridge connecting the downtown Mall to North Coast Harbor 
(“Team of Miguel Rosales and Parsons Brinckerhoff top choice to design lakefront pedestrian bridge”) 
tells us everything except why we're planning to build it. If you want to go from the mall to the harbor now, all you have to do is go east for half a block and turn north for a few short blocks. True, this route is not "iconic structural art" but it is multi-modal for pedestrians, bikes, cars, and trucks.
 
City and county governments that are contributing $20 million to the bridge are smearing other capital improvements around downtown and seem to be disoriented by delusions of grandeur. They might consider some city residents would prefer other uses for their tax dollars - such as good schools and safe streets.
 
Norman Krumholz,
Cleveland
 
 
 
WEATHER PROTECTION SCREENS:
At present, partial screens for shielding the pedestrian and bicyclists from the sometimes nasty N.E. Ohio weather have been proposed. However, because of maintenance issues and cost – there is no final decision as to whether the screens will be retained in the final design,
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
REFERENCES:
 
1. City, county seek public response to three concepts for lakefront pedestrian bridge, Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer, Nov. 6, 2014 
 
http://www.cleveland.com/architecture/index.ssf/2014/11/city_county_seek_public_respon.html
 
2. Cable-stayed design, preferred by public at meeting, is likely choice for lakefront pedestrian bridge, Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer, Nov. 14, 2014 
http://www.cleveland.com/architecture/index.ssf/2014/11/cable-stayed_design_preferred.html
 
3. Building Cleveland pedestrian bridge to the waterfront: Editorial Board Roundtable, The Plain Dealer, Nov. 26, 2014 https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCAQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cleveland.com%2Fopinion%2Findex.ssf%2F2014%2F11%2Fdesign_concepts_for_cleveland.html&ei=GVWnVMiOJoycNtGFgtgC&usg=AFQjCNHP32K1V-pJW3XLsB4p8epWffVmbA&bvm=bv.82001339,d.eXY
 
4. Group Plan Commission:
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CB4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.groupplan.org%2F&ei=W95eVO75CYaoyASI0ICgBQ&usg=AFQjCNG7eI08ka8-Cgmw458UDn_65ht8cA&bvm=bv.79189006,d.aWw
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