CLEVELAND – Residents of an Ohio City community want transparency from city leaders after they say a proposal to divert truck traffic from their neighborhood was boxed without any warning .
The problems with the Willow Avenue Lift Bridge go back decades and have serious consequences for the residents of Lakeview Terrace, one of the oldest social housing projects in the country. Local officials have said this is a unique opportunity to address these issues and are calling on the city to do it the right way.
Since moving in 21 years ago, Diane Howard has struggled with trucks driving past her home in Lakeview Terrace and worried about the effect this is having on the families who live there.
“Trucks don’t need to go through Lakeview because of the safety of our children,” Howard said.
And now she’s frustrated after the city ditched a plan to replace the aging Willow Avenue bridge with one that connects to the Shoreway near West 45th Street.
It was one of five plans discussed at a town hall meeting held by Councilor Merry McCormack and Councilor Matt Zone last year.
The options were:
- Put the bridge back where it is
- Build a new bridge right next to the existing bridge
- Build a new bridge slightly downstream of the existing bridge
- Build a new bridge further downstream, crossing the river on the other side of Lakeview Terrace
- Build a new bridge that connects directly to the Shoreway near West 45th Street
RELATED: Cleveland residents can weigh in on proposals to replace the Willow Avenue Bridge that crosses the Cuyahoga River
“Our residents have made it clear that they want to ensure that whatever decision is made that the health and well-being of our residents of the Lakeview estates is taken into consideration and that the problem of truck traffic is addressed. decades ago at Lakeview has been resolved, ”McCormack said.
He said the last option, to build a new bridge that connects to the Shoreway, emerged as the preferred option.
But in a updated traffic analysis dated June of this year, the city decided to remove this option from the review, saying it would be too expensive and increase traffic congestion on the Shoreway.
McCormack said he had no idea of the decision until about three weeks ago. He said it boiled down to poor communication.
“We have not been contacted, city council members, community development companies that are critically important in the neighborhood have not been contacted,” McCormack said.
He then teamed up with Zone, Ohio City Incorporated and the Detroit Shoreway Development Organization.
“Immediately threw up a red flag to say – wait a second – you know you can’t make that decision in a silo without talking to people in the community,” McCormack said. “And we wanted to make sure that the voices of the neighborhood, and in particular the people hardest hit by this decision – our residents at Lakeview Estates – were fully heard and that we pulled the line to say that no plan is is going to be taken care of which does not remove truck traffic out of Lakeview.
Since then, McCormack and Zone have met with city officials to voice their concerns.
“The important point we sent them was that here we have a unique, multigenerational opportunity to right this environmental injustice. And we have to make sure we get it right, ”McCormack said. “The other message we also sent them was, look, we luckily passed a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. And that’s a good start, but when we look at those decisions that are made, we have to look through the lens of this statement. And it’s a great example of how we can take action to start addressing these negative consequences, like systemic racism. “
Ohio City Incorporated has also taken action by circulating a letter online asking residents to email these leaders as well and demanding that the city include the public in plans for the bridge. The letter also urges leaders to start addressing some of the issues plaguing one of the country’s early housing projects.
Executive Director Tom McNair said Lakeview Terrace was separated from the rest of the Ohio City community by the West Shoreway just a few years after it was built in 1937 – and the community has been trying to recover from it ever since.
“For a place where trucks pass every 17 seconds, more than 1,000 trucks a day. I can’t imagine this happening anywhere else in Northeast Ohio without a major outcry and yet it has been allowed here for decades, ”said Tom McNair, executive director of Ohio City Incorporated.
Howard said she was tired of being left out and wanted the city to invite her and her neighbors into the conversation.
“Just because we live in low cost housing, residents and children shouldn’t have to suffer,” Howard said. “I think the city should let the residents know what they are going to do.
McCormack said he and Zone met with city leaders this week. They said they would not support any plan that did not remove truck traffic from the area around Lakeview Terrace and left the conversation wanting to see the Shoreway Bridge option continued.
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