Office of Citizen
Office of Citizen
Rest in Peace,
Steven Litt is slowing down ODOT's "Racing to design a new bridge for I-90". Hallelujah!
Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 07/05/2006 - 06:06.
When I saw last week a preview for the Thursday, June 29, 2006, WVIZ "Ideas" program featured PD Arts and Architecture columnist Steven Litt and Cuyahoga County Planning Director Paul Alsenas discussing the state of ODOT's plans for a new bridge to replace the current I-90 span across the Cuyahoga River, I thought I was having déjà vu. Yes, this was an issue a year ago... even six months ago, but since then ODOT had so thoroughly railroaded the bridge and trench planning process through the public mind-space that it seemed all topics of discussion about this near $billion project had moved completely behind closed doors and forgotten. Well, it seems Litt and Alsenas have very different ideas about that, as they shared in an excellent "Ideas" this week, and as Litt writes at length in today's Plain Dealer. Be sure to read that article... and great work on Ideas, Steven and Paul!!! Read on...
Anyone who reads REALNEO, or the PD, or any planning or economic development oriented publication, blog or website in town knows the planning of this ODOT bridge, and many other roadway improvements connected to that, has been a hot topic of serious contention for years - especially in the last year - among community leaders, government officials, the media and historic, design and planning professionals and activists. There is one great approach most enlightened people want, "a brilliant idea" is how Litt describes the vison, by Paul Alsenas, which is to build an entirely new "signature bridge" south of the current !-90 span. And, there is an insane proposal from ODOT to instead keep the current bridge and build a second I-90 bridge north of that, which will only have traffic leaving town, and to renovate the current I-90 bridge and keep that going for another 30 or 50 years, with all lanes coming into town, and then to eventually replace that bridge as well. With all that bridge construction and renovation will come lots of changes to the access roads and exits around the bridge, guaranteeing an unsightly mess for everyone for miles north, south, east, and west, for the next 100+ years... I told you it is an insane plan.
The good plan, originally devised by ingenious planner Alsenas and equally well supported by Litt, would bring one architectural masterpiece to the most important location in NEO - the span of the Cuyahoga, and move traffic away from the current tight quarters around our expensive Gateway neighborhood and downtown in general, bringing traffic below grade to hide it in important ways, opening up 100s of acres of land for important development around Gateway and the Flats, and over into Central - providing a massive infusion of much needed investment and wealth to our economy and allowing for creation of a new economy here in general, in the process. The only people I know of in opposition to this plan are wealthy land owners and developers and their backers, who want to exploit existing land they believe they can control around downtown and so they don't want any more land in play, and don't want to compete with new development opportunities in what will be better locations than exist today. This is certainly short sighted thinking, which seems to be failing to hold traction in the light of day, now shining bright in the Plain Dealer and on PBS.
There's lots of information in the book where this write up is posted - see links to the left and below - and at a special portal a group of activists support to explore this project, called http://neobridge.net - it may not be very current these days, as the community really lost hope that ODOT's course could be changed. But Litt and Alsenas clearly see otherwise, and now it is time for the community to really rally to their support. Here is how. Send a seriously thought out and original explanation of your opinion on these matters to Steven Litt, Paul Alsenas, the Plain Dealer, every politician you can think of (especially if they are running for office or running scared), WVIZ, Michael Gill at the Free Times, all the other media outlets, ODOT, the Port Authority and anyone else who may care or may not - I'll ask other supporters of positive change to put together a list of people who would like to hear from us, with their mail and email addresses and fax numbers, and we'll post them here and on NEObridge, along with some webforms and other tools for broad distribution. Register here or/and at NEObridge to make sure you get updates after that. That will be an excellent beginning.
If you wonder if that will make a difference, I guarantee to will. I had the opportunity to talk with Steven Litt about the bridge fiasco nearly a year ago and asked why he thought ODOT was able to railroad a bad solution through town, wiping out 100s of acres of invaluable land and demolishing many important historic buildings in the process, and he said it was because the public - we individuals in the community - did not show any organized opposition - we didn't show we care - so ODOT just did what they wanted. I saw Alsenas recently and he too feels the public needs to step up. From that perspective, if we don't express our opinions now, who are we to complain later, or ever. Well, Steven Litt and Paul Alsenas obviously didn't stop caring, and they are doing all they may to raise public awareness of what each have stated is the biggest mistake we will make in NEO in our lifetimes... both in allowing a really bad development here, and not pursuing a remarkable development.
You know what to do... reach out and speak up in concert. If you can't wait to get started, I suggest you write first to Steven Litt, at slitt [at] plaind [dot] com, and thank him for taking a public stand on this matter, and show your support for good alternatives for NEO. Copy that message to letters [at] plaind [dot] com, and letters [at] coolcleveland [dot] com, and Paul Alsenas at Palsenas [at] cuyahogacounty [dot] us, and I'd love if you copy me too, at realneo [at] inbox [dot] com
Here's the promo for the "Ideas" program on the bridge, which links to NEOBridge, which is a big surprise...
Premieres Thursday, June 29 at 8:00 PM on WVIZ/PBS
On the July 29 episode of ideas, we spoke exclusively with two of the leading voices in the decision regarding how, what and where Cleveland's new innerbelt bridge over the Cuyahoga River should be built. Time limited what you could hear during the program, but we have made both men's interviews available to you, through this website.
Speaking for ODOT is Craig Hebebrand of District 12, headquartered in Garfield Heights. He is the project manager for the $800,000,000 innerbelt rehabilitation. As ODOT's point man, he is pushing for a northern alignment for the replacement bridge, a one-directional span to go between existing bridges, connecting at Ontario and Carnegie, near Jacobs Field. Listen to the MP3
Also speaking is Paul Alsenas, the Planning Director for Cuyahoga County. He has led the charge to have the 'new' bridge moved further south, away from downtown congestion. Listen to the MP3