Friday, December 23, 2005

More Innerbelt Bridge News

Last weeks PLanning Commision meeting needed to be over at noon in order to make room for flu shot distribution. So there was one person who wanted to speak that was never heard. That person was Ed Hauser. He did speak with Chairman Tony Coyne for a little bit afterwords, but I am not sure to what extent. It is this reason that I am republishing his statement and handout that should have been part of the public record, but probably was not included.


Southern Bridge Alignment Alternative

Preliminary Assessment Findings - Request for ODOT to Reconsider the Cleveland Innerbelt Bridge Alternative for the Southern Bridge Alignment
December 21, 2005
To: Gordon Proctor
Director, Ohio Department of Transportation
1980 W. Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43223

From: Ed Hauser
11125 Lake Avenue #402
Cleveland, OH 44102

Distribution List:
Interested Citizens, Organizations, Public Officials, and the Media
U.S. Senators: George Voinovich, Mike DeWine
U.S. Representatives: Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Dennis Kucinich
FHWA Ohio Office: Herman Rodrigo, Director-Program Development; Dennis Decker, Division Administrator;
Victoria Peters, Director- Office of Engineering & Operations
Governor of Ohio- Robert Taft
Ohio Senators: Representing Greater Cleveland Districts
Ohio Representatives: Representing Greater Cleveland Districts
ODOT District 12: David Coyle, Deputy Director; Craig Hebebrand, Innerbelt Plan Project Manager
Ohio Lake Erie Commission: Members
Ohio Historic Preservation Office- Franco Ruffini, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer
Cuyahoga County Commissioners: Tim Hagan, President; Jimmy Dimora, Peter Lawson Jones
Cuyahoga County Planning Commission: Members
Mayor of Cleveland- Jane Campbell
Mayor Elect of Cleveland- Frank Jackson
Cleveland City Council: Members
Cleveland City Planning Commission: Members

Dear Director Proctor:

As a citizen, I have participated in ODOT's Cleveland Innerbelt Plan from the first meeting in 2001 through last week's meeting at the Cleveland City Planning Commission. I will share my findings in this preliminary assessment that focuses on the Innerbelt Bridge Alternatives. The overall finding is that ODOT must reconsider the Southern Bridge Alignment Alternative for the reasons brought forth below. At this time, there is insufficient information available to the public and inadequate explanations why the Southern Bridge Alignment Alternative was removed from further consideration.

Please respond to this request in five business days and add this preliminary assessment request to the public record under "public comments." I will submit a separate public records request (FOIA) to ODOT's public information officer regarding the public records for the Cleveland Innerbelt Bridge Alternatives.

Overview of Findings

The county planning commission submitted an alternative plan for a southern bridge alignment in March 2003 that was removed from further consideration by ODOT in June 2005. The only reason the South Bridge plan was removed can be found in the minutes of the Urban Core Projects Advisory Committee on June 9, 2005- “Paul Dorothy added that the Southern Alignment for the bridge has been removed from further consideration because it would require taking the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation on the south end of the bridge.”

However, it seems that there was an alternative that wouldn't take the church, as mentioned in those minutes, “Paul Alsenas said at the last Committee meeting, a Southern Alternative was shown that allowed the church to remain.” Also, during the last three public meetings, ODOT acknowledged that the Southern Bridge plan is “feasible.”

The question remains- Why was the South Bridge plan removed from further consideration? ODOT still has to provide us a timely and logical answer to that question, before choosing the final bridge alignment. Without a clear answer to that question, public records need to be inspected to find the answer.

ODOT is Proceeding Without Full Consideration of All Public Comments Being Gathered

Up to now, there has been an overwhelming public response for ODOT to reconsider southern bridge alignment plan. It seems that public input does not enter into the equation when ODOT decides how a half-billion dollars of our tax money is spent for the new Innerbelt Bridge. ODOT stated that they will not reconsider the southern bridge alignment although they admit the plan is feasible.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't ODOT using public money for both the Innerbelt Bridge project and for their salaries? Why did ODOT hire consultants to design a half-billion dollar bridge that does not have public consensus? As the old saying goes, “don't bite the hand that feeds you,” meaning that public servants work for the public and must listen to what we tell them! At this time ODOT has no intention to reconsider the Southern Bridge Alignment Plan.

ODOT has already selected the bridge design team for its “recommended” northern bridge alignment plan. That means the taxpayers are paying a bridge design team without ODOT addressing the public comments from the last round of public meetings and the comments that will be submitted through the end of January. The main question here is- Will ODOT will correct its official Transportation Development Process? If ODOT corrects its process, the best alternative for the bridge alignment will emerge.

Top Ten Reasons Why ODOT Must Reconsider the Southern Bridge Alignment Plan:

10. ODOT's removal of the South Bridge plan is invalid because Greek Orthodox Church can remain. ODOT must clearly explain why the Southern Bridge Alignment Alternative was removed from further consideration, after acknowledging that the plan is feasible.

9.Public comments gathered so far, support the South Bridge plan. Public comments submitted to ODOT for the Innerbelt Plan must be posted on its website.

8.ODOT has hired the bridge designers prior to compiling and addressing all public comments gathered through the deadline in January.

7.U.S. Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Cuyahoga County Planning Commission and most importantly the public supports an independent review for the South Bridge plan.

6.No cost analysis for the South Bridge span, which is hundreds of feet shorter than the North Bridge. The only cost analysis has been for the North Bridge alignments.

5.No economic impact study for the North or South Bridge plans. Economic Impact Studies for both the Northern and Southern Bridge Alignment Alternatives must be completed and assessed prior to the final decision of the alignment. There are differences between the Northern and Southern Bridge Alignments regarding the amount and location of prime land that would be opened up.

4.No engineering analysis for the South Bridge plan. There are differences between the Northern and Southern Bridge Alignments in the approaches to the Central Interchange and the ramp closures.

3.The Historic Preservation Act requires that all alternatives be examined prior to demolishing a structures or property eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. ODOT's “Recommended Preferred Alternative” for the North Bridge takes property eligible for the NRHP. The Innerbelt Bridge is also within the boundary of the Ohio Coastal Management Program, therefore the bridge development must be consistent with OCMP policies.

2.Step 6 (current step) of ODOT's Transportation Development Process states “The decision to carry forward more than one alternative is permissible. If more than one alternative is reasonable and there are no major difference in the level of potential impacts among the alternative, then all of those alternatives should be carried forward through the evaluations in this step."

1.ODOT must Reconsider the South Bridge Plan to cultivate public trust and confidence in ODOT. The implementation of ODOT's "Transportation Development Process" is flawed and needs to be corrected immediately, to fulfill its requirement for a "balanced consideration of alternatives and impacts." It is clear, for the reasons stated above, that certain requirements and obligations in ODOT's official process have not been met.


Step 6 is very critical in the determination of what bridge alignment we will have live with for the next 50-100 years. It will also have a tremendous impact on the economic development opportunities and attractiveness of our great community.

At this time, ODOT is recommending that we proceed with its preferred alternative that will repair the existing Innerbelt bridge for eastbound traffic and build a new bridge to the north. ODOT's Recommended Preferred Alternative has many flaws associated with it and there is an urgent need for the Southern Bridge Alignment Alternative to “be carried forward through the evaluations in this step.”

Respectfully submitted,

Ed Hauser