A Promise and an Opportunity for Connectivity, New Jobs and Opportunities for Residents

by | Nov 15, 2021 | Arts & Culture, Cost of Living & Economy, Development News, Healthcare & Hospitals, NE Ohio in the News, Neighborhoods & Housing, Traffic & Commute

Monday, November 15, 2021 
Was it just me, or does it seem a bit prophetic that just days after Cleveland elected a 34 year old change agent named Justin Bibb to be our next Mayor, the final stretches of the  appropriately named Opportunity Cooridor opened this weekend following five long years of construction?

photo courtesy of Ohio Department of Transportation

The most complicated piece of the construction, the underpass where I-490 east dead ends at E. 55th Street, is now open. The east and west side neighborhoods of the city of Cleveland are now connected in a very different way. Instead of interstate highways ringing the outer edges of the city and connecting mainly outer ring suburbs, this 3 mile stretch of newly paved road provides connectivity between the city neighborhoods of Tremont, Ohio City, Clark/Fulton and Detroit/Shoreway with their counterpart neighborhoods on the near east side of Cleveland including Kinsman, Buckeye/Woodhill, Buckeye/Shaker Square, Fairfax, Hough and University Circle.
Life just got a whole lot easier for people who live on the west side and work in University Circle or the Heights.  If you live in Lakewood, Rocky River, Westlake, Bay Village, Avon Lake and take I-90 to work in University Circle or Cleveland Heights, Opportunity Corridor just shaved 10-15 minutes off of your commute. The Corridor opens up neighborhood choices for newcomers Executive Arrangements works with who consistently request a “less than 30 minute commute to my office”.

signage on I-77 South leaving downtown Cleveland

This morning I drove from Tremont to University Circle using the route I used before Opportunity Corridor existed: W. 7th entrance to I-490, exiting at Carnegie Avenue and SLOWLY driving eastward. Traffic lights, designed to help cars flow quickly during rush hour are timed the wrong way for those headed east thru MidTown in the AM and westward home in the evenings. At least half of the lights are red and require at least a 1 minute stop. I counted, yes I have, the number of lights from the freeway exit to E. 105th Street in University Circle! EIGHTEEN lights (many clustered for safety reasons in the busy blocks surrounding the Cleveland Clinic which sees lots of pedestrian foot traffic) at these intersections on Opportunity Corridor:

  • E. 28th
  • E. 30th
  • E. 36th
  • E. 40th
  • E. 46th
  • Prospect
  • E. 55th
  • E. 71st
  • E. 77th
  • E. 29th
  • E. 83rd
  • E. 86th
  • E. 89th
  • E. 90th
  • E. 96th
  • E. 100th
  • E. 101st
  • E 105th

Then I drove on the newly paved, three lanes in each direction (with left hand turn lanes!) back home and counted the lights I would have to navigate on Opportunity Corridor between E. 105th & my Tremont exit at W. 7th off of I-490. Only one of the just NINE traffic lights was red, so it was a breeze to go past lights at:

  • Cedar Avenue
  • Quincy Avenue
  • E. 93rd Street
  • Woodland Avenue
  • Buckeye Road
  • E. 79th Street
  • E. 75th Street
  • Kinsman Road
  • E. 55th Street

Instead of the usual 18-20 minute commute, it took me less than 10 minutes!
But even more important than an easier commnute time is the opportunity for future economic development thru neighborhoods that are in need. If I can picture shops, independent restaurants, and public green spaces, I bet Mayor Elect Justin Bibb can also!
Not everyone is thrilled about the opening of Opportunity Corridor. Running a major thoroughfare thru residential areas (where quite a few lots were claimed by eminent domain) is always contraversial and many of the original promises (more jobs, new developments, better housing) could take decades to come to life, if ever. In the 1950’s the Tremont neighborhood went through a similiar disruption for “progress” when the Innerbelt (I-90) used eminent domain to claim thousands of homes. It took decades for Tremont to recover and we can’t let that happen to the neighborhoods in The Forgotten Triangle, we’ve learned to much to repeat past mistakes!
There are hundreds of new trees planted in the median, and alongside the roadway is a dedicated walk/bike path that runs the entire 3 miles. As soon as the weather is nice enough to allow it, I imagine we’ll see cyclists, moms and dads with strollers, dog walkers, joggers. All these pedestrians and motorists will need coffee shops, corner bodegas, gas stations.  We will support them as we drive this route daily to get to work and as we visit the cultural institutions that anchor University Circle. One of the first development projects announced, Innovation Square, will be anchored by a Meijer grocery store and future apartment buildings.
The new roadway makes getting to Karamu House for a show so much easier for west and far east siders who use the freeway to get into town. Depending on where the employees live, easier access to the largest independent bakery between Chicago and New York, Orlando Bakery, now so visible to the street! If they don’t already have a shop open to the public that sells fresh bread daily, they should! And when I saw this old Gund Beer sign on the side of a building…..
I saw vivid proof that the near east side of CLE had a rich history of beer making. Perhaps a foreshadowing that there will be resident-owned craft brewery here someday! Wouldn’t it be nice to have more integrated communal spaces to share a cold one, engage in conversations and create connections?  I’ll be first in line when it opens!
Keeping on top of everything new and interesting in the CLE/AKR region has been a cornerstone of Executive Arrangements since it’s founding in 1979. Our love for the city, passion as life-long learners and design to make sure every out-of-town candidate or new hire has the best possible experience when seeing our city for the first time is key to our talent attraction and retention services. If having your recruit professionally wooed to the city, or having your new hire on-boarded to insure retention sounds interesting, call us at 216.231.9311.