Why does this need to be done?This ramp reconfiguration is part of the overall multi-billion dollar Innerbelt Modernization Plan. This plan will update the freeway from its outdated 1950’s design to meet current, modern design standards. These modern standards provide significantly longer entrance ramps to allow traffic to better ease onto the mainline freeway. Current design practices also eliminate “weave” areas where vehicles are crossing paths on the same section of pavement. In order to design these improved ramps, it was necessary to reconfigure the current entrance ramps to I-77. These overall improvements are expected to dramatically improve motorist safety along with reduce daily congestion. They also provide brand new pavement and bridges that replace 50+ year old infrastructure.
Additionally, the ramp reconfiguration allows for the reconstruction of both the East 9th and Ontario Street exit ramps from I-90 east into downtown. The ramps will be reconstructed to include flatter curves - thus improving safety and flow. The new exit ramps will replace the "hairpin" turns many motorists experienced when exiting at these ramps - particularly at Ontario Street. Click here for a before and after image.
In addition to reconstructed off-ramps, the removal of the two I-77 entrance ramps allows for construction of a NEW off-ramp. A new exit ramp will be created giving I-90 east motorists access to southbound East 9th Street and the new East 9th Street Extension. This will provide direct access into the Flats from I-90. Click here for an image.
The ramp removal also allows for increased greenspace and two, new "portals" into downtown, which will provide a more welcoming entrance into the city.
From a maintenance standpoint, the ramp removal means removing three (3) overpass bridges - eliminating dollars spent in annual maintenance, inspection and repairs.