Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Live Blogging from the Cleveland Innerbelt Community Meeting

This is a first for me.
I am going to try and do a live blog.

We are at Myers University.

The room is packed.
Easily over 200 people.

Bob Brown is welcoming everyone.

9:15 am

Brown is giving us a primer on the what has happened over the past few years.
(It is good to see a nice turnout by the media)
Brown: "Our hope is that we can all learn from each other at todays meeting... keep open minds... have a safe innnerbelt for the next 50, or so years."

Introduces Jim Havilan, MidTown Cleveland, Inc.

9:20

Haviland: ODOT suggested that the public give there presentation before they do (by Gordon Proctor).
The importance of today's meeting.
-Well-defined issues
-Timing, The mayor wants a resolution
-The larger community must take a position

The goal of the meeting
-present outstanding points
-allow for informed decision making
-present a solution

9:25

History of Community Concerns in the Trench
(much of what is being said now is common knowledge for those who have been staying informed over the past few years; however it is good they are going over it)

History of Community Participation
Since December 2003, the community has maintained the need to keep Carnegie and Prospect access.
Many public meetings since then.
Jul 2005, ODOT rejects community position on trench.

9:30

History of Community Compromises
-St. Clair and Lakeside ramp closures
-West 14th and Abbey
-Innerbelt Bridge
-Quigley

Unresolved Community Points of Conflict (as of November, 2005)
-Removal of Carnegie Ave exit, eastbound
-Closure of Prospect entrance nad exit
-Close current Chester exit, westbound

9:35

Haviland walks us through ODOT's Alternative Trench Configuration (No payne Avenue Connection)
"We challange ODOT on how this is a better alternative."
Possible scenarios involving special events traffic, accidents, business location/relocation.

9:44

Procedural Points of Conflict
-Incomplete Economic Impact Study (marginal, at best)
-No traffic models

Acton requested by the Community
-Convene new series of Innerbelt Trench working meeting over a 60 day period to identify a design alternative that acheives an improved innerbelt without widespread economic and community damage.

Bob Brown introduces Gordon Proctor, Director of ODOT

9:48
He is talking about all of the projects that have been done by ODOT over the past few years.
Invite for a field trip to Columbus to observe a finished project.

Access and Crashes
-Central interchange is #1 for freeway crashes statewide
-787 crashes a year
-2 a day
-Annual cost of $12 million

"Not good for the people, not good for business."

-over a third of the accidents are during the afternoon rush
-1/3 are city residents
-1/3 are county residents

Shows a nice slide with an above ground view with little dots showing where the accidents have happened over the past three years (very impressive and convincing graphic)

9:57

Regarding Prospect and Carnegie ramps
"It is like trying to fix a sidewalk in an old neighborhood with many trees."
-Walker Weeks and Juvy Court, cannot be taken due to historic designation (legalality)
-Explains what is trying to be done in regards to accomidating I-77 north and Carnegie.
-Cannot look at those two ramps witout realizing how the rest of the interchange is impacted by the inclusion/exclusion of said ramps.

10:05
Introduces Craig Hebrebrand, project manager
"Comes down to this, five years we have worked with the city and the issue comes down to solving the Carnegie Curve area... is there a solution?"
-Walks us through the area again.
-Talks about the known bottlenecks from Metro Curve, up.
-The Carnegie Curve area needs to be cleaned up in order to service the the other traffic coming from 71, 77 and 90.
-Shows November, 2005 recomendations
--Split access at Payne/Chester
--Frontage road jogs at Prospect
--Frontage road ends at Carnegie

Proposed Refinements, February 2006
-Consolidated access at Chester Avenue
-Straighten Frontage Road at Prospect
-Extend Frontage Rd to Cedar Avenue

10:17

(It looks as if the Chester ramps will remain and be improved. Nice.)
Gloria Ferris is here and pointed out to Craig, that he avoided talking about the yellow sections of the graphic, which, of course, are the proposed takings.

Back to Proctor

They wanted to have a model available with computer animation showing traffic, but there were technical difficulties... they will provide later; perhaps place it on the website. (That will be helpful.)

Urban Design and Aesthetic Enhancements
-points out the vandal fencing, the color (gray) and lack of landscaping
-shows a slide of a bridge in Dublin, Ohio and the bridges in Newburgh Hts (77)
-states these bridges are more inviting
-shows bridge in Columbus, High Street (I-670). The city found devolper who then built structures on the bridge... retail.
-In regards to economic study: there has never been an economic study done before in Ohio... this will be the first.
-ODOT does not have a history of doing it... they are doing the best they can do.

Back to Craig about economic study

10:33

Access and Economics
-shows timing w/o Carnegie and Prospect ramps
--general increases overall... (small, but still and increase)
--"No significant change in overall employment."
---existing employment 30,000
---0.2% increase = 70 jobs

Influence of Opportunity Corridor
-the corridor will not influence traffic positively or negatively
-the further away from 55th and I490, the less influence

Rap-up by Proctor

Verification of Recommendation
-ODOT to review our recommendation
-FHWA to conduct "independent" review of ODOT's recommendation

10:42

Back to Brown for comments and questions by the public

They can be directed to anyone in the room
rules:
-identify yourself
-identify who you are directing the quesation to.
-three minutes
-only discussing the trench issues

KUCINCH REPRESENTATIVE (Marty Gelfand)
-Procedural question to proctor regarding impacts
-how can you explain no impact with all of the ramp closures
--Proctor: depends on wether DC will say there is a environmental or economic impact
-when does the process start?
--it started five years ago, the formal submittals should be this year

Gerry Martin, resident
-against closing Carnegie
-wants a promise that there will be no accidents on the side streets instead of the freeway
--Proctor:crashes go down about 30%
They have not begun to study I71 yet, there will be some consolidation

Ed "Citizen" Hauser
-Submitted 13 request regarding public process
-process has been changed dramatically
-public comment period is over, yet portions of the process continue
-specifically, the bridge
-we need the reports, then we can comment - then make decisions
-reopen the process
Proctor: your emails were so numerous and detailed... we will respond
-the process has been working - over 3oo meetings
-the southern allignment is vastly more complex
-the tie-ins will impact traffic greatly
-closures could last 2-4 years, Toledo
-once the bridge is done, other freeways will have to be closed periodically
-as part of the analysis and discussion, which has been entered in the public record, the northern allignment has the least amount of impact
-a design team has been picked, there will be a signature bridge
-the report you ask for does not exist in the format you request, it will come

Mike Cheslar, Cheslar Group
-The presentation was terrific
-shocked at the lack of economic impact understanding
-the one page questionere was lacking
-how is this going to effect on our businesses
Proctor: study will show what the traffic flow will be if there is a no-build and then show what the traffic is proposed, block by block, during construction
-there has been no study before, we are doing the best we can
Cheslar: will there be other studies?
Proctor:there is no current methodology existing off the shelf that we can follow
Cheslar: There studies all over the country that we developers use regularly
Proctor: Yes there is if you are involved in office building

Gloria Ferris, Old Brooklyn
-Comment about calling this "The Trench"
-happy to see Proctor addressed the visual aspect of this
-what gaurantee do we have that design/aesthetics will be done
Brown: The city will gaurantee that it will be addressed
-an aesthetic committee is being assembled to follow up on these issues
Ferris: what about the cost
Proctor: many of hte things will be done anyway, the cost to make them visually pleasing cost very little
-federal enhancemnet funds
-encourage NOACA to take part in these discussions

Robert Bostwick, architech
(missed the question)
something about the retaining walls
Proctor: we will share the cost in any widening/retaining wall issues
Bostwick: A sincere proposal will show that you are interested in the trees as well as the sidewalk
Proctor: are you aware of the Shoreway Project? blah, blah... ODOT has provided most of the funding for this and other local projects that do not make the freeway any better, show that we are offering goodwill, blah,blah
Bostwick: what can be done to the innerbelt to not only enhance safety, but help the local economy
-we should take Havilands suggestion to take a 60 day break to study this
-there other solutions that we have not thouhgt about yet
Applause

John (?), Blonderhome(?)
local business owner
-his employees use the innerbelt
how is the new setup going to save time for people from our location, 40th and propect
Craig: the savings are on overall trip
-there may be some waiting at traffic lights, but the overall savings from the innerbelt travel to local businesses will be decreased
John: I am suspicious of you numbers

Phil Pavarini, Tremont West Board Member
When will there be a meeting so the citizens can attend - evening
Brown: some of our most effective meetings have been in the neighborhoods, not the big ones like this
Craig: concurred, we will continue to listen
-FHWA will continue to listen
-we will have some more evening meetings

11:15

Jim Volk, Cleveland Indians
-appreciates this type of gathering and the local CDC efforts
-for the most part this is a good plan
-i would really like to take another look at 90... 40,00 fans, plus Quicken and theaters...
i think the current plan, although an improvemnet, is still flawed
-homeland security issues, do not see how this plan addresses this

Joe Cimperman, Coucilman
there has been six years of study plus w6 weeks of economic study, surprised to hear that this was your first
-when will it be done?
-who is going to pay for the maintainance of the marginal roads
-we ask that ODOT address that
-agrees with the 60 day cooling off period
-is there a concensus about this
-the conty may have some input about JUVY
Proctor: it is a given that we will do the 60 days... and up until the end of the year
- we have not maintained roads like this in the past, but will discuss with the city

Mark Leonard, Dodd Camera
-there needs to be an additional way to exit the freeway in case an exit is missed, otherwise you will end up on the other side of the river
-Juvy, questions the historic relevance of the building
Brown: it is not he use of the historic building, it is the architectual significance

Tom, Gateway
Discussed some historic issues with other buildings and preservation issues that have come up

Chris Bongorno, Planning Student
-concerned about the streetlevel traffic
-concerned about the possible 30 plus buildings that will be taken
---Artcraft
-these taking will hurt the image of the city
Brown: the city agrees that we have to do everything possible to make sure these building are saved
St. Clair/Superior: have asked ODOT to relook at some of the allignments issues with some of the buildings
Craig: We looked at takes conservatively
-there are some that we may not need
-some of the impact will only involve some of the parking lots associated with building

Frank Porter, Central Cadillac
-Greatful he has been involved with all discussions
-after spending all of the money we spent on remodeling... it will be more difficult for customers to reach us.
-compared this proposed closing to closing harvard/271 exits and trying to get to brainard
-to the representative from FHWA, is there rome for compromise
FHWA: (did not know he was here)
-this is the type of thinking we like to see... discussion
-is everyone going to get what they want, no
-in the end, this will be the most balanced
-there is room for compromise
-we cannot let special interest keep us from oour objectives: safety, access and congestion
-there is room for compromise, but we cannot promise Carnegie will remain open
Proctor: if we could keep these two exits open, we would. but the traffic studies and animation shows that traffic stops on the freeway when either one of these exits remain open
-the physics of it will not work
Jim Haviland:
-on the issue of compromise, we have proposed a a different configuration that would take Juvy , but allow for a better configuration
Proctor:
-we feel legally handtied by federal caselaw, if there is an alternative where there is no taking, then we have to follow through on that precident
-we are bound legally

Steve Qua, Limo Business
-it is not an issue of the amount of time it takes to get from a to b, it is the perception
-are those ramp reductions going to address this
-economic study question: will this allow for your business to grow?
-that question does not exist
-Can you organically grow, if the customer perceives that there is an negative change

Bill Beckenbach, Quadrangle
-concerned with the truck traffic as it effects tri-c, post office and hospital

John Cleff, Cleveland Clinic
-we are responsible for as much of the congestion as anybody
-it is important that we maintain a front door and a back door to our facility
-Euclid Corridor will reduce some of that access
-we are only to continue to grow, this must be realized

Ed Hauser
-back to public process
-i am looking for answers
-i take the lack of answers as an insult personally
-there is a 14 step public process that has been broken
FHWA: the person you need to reach is Kappka in DC
-I am aware of your concerns
-we are trying to address your concerns
-you asked about the documentation, we are addressing it
-the decisions are not final until we have finished going through the process
-the January deadline will be extended (wow)
-please do not feel like you are being ignored

Hauser:
-the bridge has been decided on and that is the part that has been decided on.
FHWA: that desicion has not been finalized (wow, again)

Terry , Business Owner
(missed question)
something about timeframe for property aquisition
Craig:
case by case until

Bob Brown:
Than you and good bye


(Comments anyone?)

4 comments:

Adam Harvey said...

That sounds almost exactly like the presentation my block club received a few months ago. Nice to see such a good turnout though.

Mr. Good Day said...

I was surprised at the turnout, considering how poorly publicized this meeting was. There were many valuable comments and the responses were, in my opinion, more adequate than at the November meeting.

There is still a great deal of research, planning, negotiation, and compromise left before this project can move on to the next stage, yet, I'm not getting the impression than any progress has been made since November.

Great job with the "live blog," by the way. I know there's still a lot missing, but you did your best for the folks who weren't able to make it!

Gloria Ferris said...

Scott:

You did a great job of giving an overview of the meeting as it took place. It was great to be able to read your blog and pick up the portion of the meeting that I missed. I intend to blog on this subject myself later tomorrow or Thursday. I certainly intend to include your live blog in my rememberance and thoughts on the meeting.

Daniella said...

Scott

That was good. I am sorry I missed this meeting but if they follow through and have evening meetings I will be able to attend.