A Transplant’s Guide to Cleveland Traffic Reports

by | Oct 4, 2019 | Traffic & Commute

If you are new to Cleveland, chances are when you hear the morning traffic alerts, you might not have any clue whether the landmarks they are mentioning could affect your commute (because where the heck is Dead Man’s Curve?).
Here’s a list of places that locals recognize instantly but might be helpful to Cleveland newcomers:

The Innerbelt

The Innerbelt is the section of I-71 and I-90 as they merge just west of downtown Cleveland in the Tremont neighborhood. The majority of The Innerbelt is a high level bridge over the Cuyahoga River. I-77 northern terminus is here as well, which just adds to the jumble. After a major multi year renovation (2013-2016) that replaced the 1950s single span with two separate bridges (one east-bound, one west-bound), the bridge re-opened and is rarely heavily congested now that there are two lanes. The fun part of this project was the controlled demo of the old bridge, which had thousands of Clevelanders getting up at the crack of dawn to watch the once-in-a-lifetime implosion that brought down the old span in August 2014. It was the largest project in the Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) history,

EA President Margy Judd (middle) celebrating the re-opening of the Innerbelt Bridge in 2016 with friends

Dead Man’s Curve

Despite it’s scary-sounding name, this 90 degree turn along the Cleveland Innerbelt claims more hubcaps and 18-wheeler loads than it does human lives. Straightening out this hairpin turn doesn’t happen until 2022, so until then, take the 35 mph signs seriously!

The West Shoreway (AKA Rt. 2)

This four mile stretch of freeway hugs Lake Erie from E. 9th Street in downtown Cleveland to Lake/Clifton in the Edgewater Park neighborhood to the west. Although the Westinghouse manufacturing plant closed in 1979, the curve at W. 45th Street is still referred to as The Westinghouse Curve by traffic reporters (as they report the standard “slow downs due to sun glare hitting windshield as they head east”). It was recently turned into a 35 mph stretch (from 50 mph) with a tree-lined boulevard center median (which has some drivers upset as they still speed through).

opportunity corridor

Photo courtesy of Ohio Dept of Transportation

The Opportunity Corridor

The one spot in Cleveland that is devoid of quick freeway access is the University Circle and Cleveland Heights/Shaker Heights areas. (To understand a bit of context on why that happened, read this fun David and Goliath story about how a group of women defied political pressure that tried to put a freeway right through the middle of the Shaker Lakes and helped keep the Heights free from freeways by choice).
To help move traffic from the west side to the busy business district of University Circle and then up into the Heights, Opportunity Corridor is slowly taking shape. Currently, I-490 stops at I-77, but when construction is complete in 2021, the freeway  will go under E. 55th and connect with a boulevard that goes straight to University Circle. Most of us locals have been hearing about this project since before we were born, so we were amazed when it finally found viable funding and $300M+ is being pumped into this project – a three-mile-long boulevard that spans multiple Cleveland neighborhoods, including Slavic Village, Kinsman, Fairfax, and MidTown. The project has been divided into three sections:

Other things locals know:

  • The Euclid-Wickliffe Spur is where I-271 and I-90 join on the border of Lake & Cuyahoga Counties on the cities east side.
  • Rt. 176 is also known as The Jennings Freeway. It’s the north/south connector between north Parma and downtown.
  • I-90 east from downtown along the lake is also know as The East Shoreway.

We hope this helps you as you navigate our Cleveland streets! Before you know it, you’ll be conquering traffic like a seasoned Clevelander.
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