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I-490 To Close As Opportunity Corridor Enters Final Phase

An illustration showing the detour routes that will be available after I-490 is closed. [Ohio Department of Transportation]
An illustration showing the detour routes that will be available after I-490 is closed. [Ohio Department of Transportation]

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) wants drivers to know that a stretch of Interstate 490, between East 55th Street and I-77, will be closed later this month. The shutdown will alow for construction on the third and final phase of the $306 million Cleveland Opportunity Corridor project.

Julie Meyer, ODOT's project manager for the Opportunity Corridor, said that she knows the closure will be challenging for drivers at first, but the agency has worked with the City of Cleveland to identify detour routes. 

"We gotta keep our eyes on the prize," said Meyer, during a presentation Wednesday at the offices of the Greater Cleveland Partnership in downtown Cleveland. "What it's going to look like when we're done, it's going to be amazing, and the access we're going to achieve from this is going to be outstanding."

But until then, the shutdown and construction will affect folks who live, work, and commute in the area.

"I think that, initially, the shock of I-490 being closed will be painful, but the more people know about it before it happens, the better," said Annie Pease, transportation director for University Circle, Inc., a community services corporation for the neighborhood that sits at the east end of the new boulevard. Pease said that she's busy trying to get the word out to local residents and businesses. 

Pam Ashby, director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Cleveland Field Office, said that the closure will likely affect her commute.

"It is, I’m sure, going to add additional drive time for me," she said. "I’ll probably have to leave earlier or later to avoid a lot of the traffic."

The Opportunity Coordinator, which began construction in 2015, will connect I-490 to the University Circle institutions and neighborhood. The goal of the project is to improve traffic flow and spur economic development in an area of Cleveland that some have referred to as the "Forgotten Triangle," due to a lack of economic investment.

Although the effort was once scheduled to be finished this year, ODOT now expects to complete construction in June 2022. Once it's done, Ashby said she's hopeful the Corridor will benefit residents in public housing developments such as Woodhill Homes. 

"Access to a lot of our anchor institutions will now be opened up to low-income folks," Ashby said. "Hopefully, those same residents will have an opportunity to get some lifts economically as well."

The I-490 closure is slated to begin on May 29 and continue until May 2021.