PROJECT LINKED TO NEW CLEVELAND PUBLIC POWER UTLITY UPGRADE
by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, February 2014) At a Public Information Meeting, held on January 9th, residents and businesses along the Denison Avenue corridor from Ridge Road to I-176 were presented with final plans for a proposed Cleveland Public Power utility upgrade and street reconstruction project. The $9.1 million, two-year project, is a joint effort between Cleveland Public Power, the City of Cleveland and the Cuyahoga County Engineers. The City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects estimates the entire project will be completed by December of 2015.
The plans call for a new Cleveland Public Power line to run from the railroad property south of Barberton Avenue at W. 62nd, up W. 62nd to Denison and along Denison to the I-176 Bridge. The new Cleveland Public Power line, starts at the Ridge Road Transfer Station, and will eventually run all the way to the Broadway/ Slavic Village neighborhood on the East Side of the Cuyahoga River. It will be buried at least 30” below the surface and encased in concrete. The line will run under the road surface on W. 62nd and Denison Avenue. Cleveland Public Power’s plans caused the City of Cleveland to move up plans for pavement reconstruction and putting in new sidewalks, curbs and driveways along the Denison corridor. CPP says the new line will increase the reliability of its service and allow it to increase its customer base.
When the reconstruction of Denison from Ridge to I-176 is complete, there will be a new traffic pattern on Denison Avenue. The street will be remarked to allow only one lane for car traffic in each direction. Parking will be eliminated on both sides of Denison and a bike lane will be painted on the road surface in both directions. The exception will be for turn lanes.
The roughly fifty residents and businesses in attendance were generally receptive to the ideas in the plan. Many had attended a planning meeting last year. Some residents called for the bike lanes to be painted green to give them more emphasis. Questions were raised about the possibility of burying other utilities and the prospects of connecting the bike lanes to other planned bike lanes. City officials said the burying of telephone, cable and electrical lines would not be part of this project. They revealed that planned bike routes would eventually link up to the Denison bike lanes via W. 65th, W. 44th and W. 41st Streets.
The biggest controversy at the meeting involved plans to start the project the day after the meeting, on January 10th. Plans called for reducing traffic to one direction along W. 62nd and Denison from Ridge to Fulton. Residents and business owners said that was too little notice. Residents warned that RTA bus riders on the 81, 21 and 45A buses would be left stranded as nothing had yet appeared on the RTA website about the proposed traffic changes.
Residents urged that both RTA and the four schools along the corridor be made aware of the timeline for traffic pattern changes and construction detours before the project starts so they can communicate to riders and school children and their families.
Business owners said they would like at least a week notice to get proposed detour routes to drivers and employees. One business said he had drivers coming from out of town locations such as Chicago and California and drivers would need advance notice.
The wisdom of the proposed detour route – down W. 73rd to Clark was also questioned. The local block club chairperson warned that buses have a difficult time negotiating the turn from W. 73rd to Clark. She wondered if semi trucks could make the turn. Concern was also expressed about the low clearance of the railroad bridge at W. 65th and Clark.
Planners agreed to delay the start of the project to at least the following Monday. The delay turned out to be longer. On January 16th the City of Cleveland, Ward 14 Councilman Brian Cummins, and the Stockyard, Clark-Fulton Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office sent out emails to announce new starting dates (weather permitting). The starting date for work on W. 62nd was announced as January 20th
An Advisory issued on January 28th indicates that work on Denison Avenue between W. 65th and Fulton will begin on February 3rd, weather permitting. There was no mention of the timeline for Denison from Ridge to W. 65th. The advisory included a new detour route, which incorporated some of the suggestions at the public meeting.
The advisory says, “One westbound lane of traffic will be maintained along the north side of Denison from Fulton to W. 65th Street. Eastbound traffic approaching West 65th Street will be detoured. Cars eastbound on Denison will be required to detour north on West 65th to eastbound Clark, to southbound Fulton and back to eastbound Denison. Trucks eastbound on Denison will be required to detour North on West 65th to eastbound Lorain, to southbound Fulton and back to eastbound Denison.” The advisory further states that this segment of the construction is expected to take 10 months.
Editor’s Note: The City of Cleveland has promised to maintain driveway access for residents and businesses during construction. At the January 9th meeting residents and businesses were urged to call Project Inspector David McAllen on his cell phone at 216-857-0897 to report any problems during construction. Other project contacts are: Frank Keehl, Project Manager, at 216-664-2256 and Khalil Ewais, Chief Construction Engineer, at 216-664-7422.