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ODOT Announces Plans to Reopen Closed Innerbelt Lanes/Ramps
Lanes/ramps expected to reopen as early as November 

Cleveland (Tuesday, August 11, 2009) Closed lanes and ramps on Downtown Cleveland’s Interstate 90 could open as early as the end of November, under plans announced today by the Ohio Department of Transportation.

This phase of ODOT’s Innerbelt Bridge Safety Plan is part of the department’s $10 million investment this construction season on the Innerbelt Bridge. When complete, the repairs will allow for the reopening of the W. 14th Street ramp to I-90 eastbound – which has been closed since May of 2008 – and the Ontario Street ramp to I-90 westbound.

Reopening the ramps will improve connectivity to the Tremont and Gateway neighborhoods, which have had limited access to I-90 since ODOT restricted traffic on the aging structure in October 2008.

This phase of work was made possible only after extensive, detailed analysis of the steel members and connections of the main structure. In coordination with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), ODOT engineers found that the construction of a segment to widen the W. 14th Street on-ramp in the early 1980’s added considerable additional weight and stress to the existing truss.

“We have undertaken one of the largest, most detailed analyses of any bridge in the United States,” said ODOT, District 12 Deputy Director Bonita Teeuwen, P.E.  “Our thorough and accurate analysis of this bridge will serve as a model for other transportation agencies across the nation.” 

After careful consideration of the analysis, the project team agreed that the best way to ensure safety of motorists on the bridge – while optimizing the traffic-carrying capacity of the structure – would be to remove the 300,000 pound widened segment of the W. 14th Street ramp.

The majority of work on this phase of the Safety Plan will be performed during daytime hours while the bridge remains open for service. Limited overnight and weekend closures may be necessary as crews work to complete repairs. Work is expected to begin in mid- to late September. 

When complete, I-90 westbound traffic will be returned to its original configuration – including heavy truck traffic – and motorists will again have use of the Ontario Street ramp to I-90 westbound. Interstate 90 eastbound traffic will reopen to three, through lanes of traffic and one, dedicated lane for those motorists entering I-90 from W. 14th Street.  The right lane of I-90 as it merges onto the I-90 Innerbelt Bridge at the I-71/I-490 split will remain closed and heavy truck traffic will remain detoured from the bridge in the eastbound direction in order to accommodate W. 14th Street ramp traffic and reduced lane widths.  

The Innerbelt Bridge is a vital link into downtown Cleveland.  In October 2008, ODOT engineers restricted traffic on the 50-year-old bridge after inspections revealed that a number of steel members were aging faster than expected.  In March, 2009 ODOT announced plans to construct a new $400 million westbound Innerbelt Bridge, utilizing federal transportation stimulus funds made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Construction of the new westbound bridge is expected to being in 2011.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT THE ODOT DISTRICT 12 PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE:
Jocelynn Clemings 216.584.2006