Ohio DOT Can’t Fathom Bike-Ped Access on Downtown Cleveland Bridge

innerbelt_concept.jpgOhio DOT says this concept drawing of a bike-ped path on the Innerbelt Bridge does not convey a realistic expectation. Image: GreenCityBlueLake

We’ve got an update today on a storyline we’ve been following for months: The Ohio Department of Transportation’s refusal to build a path for biking and walking when they replace Cleveland’s I-90 Innerbelt Bridge. Back in December, cyclists rallied to urge the DOT to include such a path, which would create a direction connection to downtown. In the face of ongoing pressure from local activists, as well as Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Senator Sherrod Brown, DOT chief Jolene Molitoris has continued to stonewall the idea.

Marc Lefkowitz at member blog GreenCityBlueLake writes:

ODOT finally released a letter explaining why it doesn’t see a way to design a bridge today with a simple multi-purpose path. Working against ODOT in this case are at least 30 instances where multipurpose paths are already on highway bridges. The problem has never been one of can it be done, the issue has always been our DOT cannot imagine why it should be done.

In her letter to the Governor last week, ODOT Director Jolene Molitoris shed more light on ODOT’s thinking – the bridge is a problem to be solved, not an asset to be gained. Molitoris writes: “ODOT took a different approach to evaluating this issue as part of this renewed second look. To start, we asked the very simple question: if bicycle and pedestrian access were added to the Innerbelt Bridge, what challenges would need to be overcome?”

That sounds eerily similar to the old approach. Rather than figure out how to meet the community’s expectation, ODOT is looking for an excuse to lower those expectations…

Members of Congress and local business leaders alike continue this week to press Governor Strickland to request that ODOT Region 12 ask the bridge designers to think of a creative solution in their bids. In other words, this fight isn’t over; not by a long shot.

Read Lefkowitz’s full post for some sharp observations about Ohio DOT’s opaque decision-making process.

More good stuff from around the Network: Joe Urban debunks Joel Kotkin’s recent piece in the Wall Street Journal claiming the demand for city living has been exaggerated. A visit to Boston prompts a Burqueño to wonder — what if the Big Dig had been a big freeway teardown instead? And Twin Cities Streets for People posts a sickening computer simulation of how oil spewing into the Gulf may spread.