Thursday, July 17, 2008

US 20 in Ohio: Euclid Corridor Project Wraps Up

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Euclid Corridor Project, which is a complete reworking of US Route 20 from the Terminal Tower, east to University Circle, will be completed soon. I was just in downtown Cleveland yesterday and snapped a few pictures and video clips of the work in progress closer to the Terminal Tower. While it still looks like quite a mess, there are many things already in place that indicate this will be a great help to moving cars, buses, and pedestrians on Euclid Avenue. I took a short video of the construction area (below).

Short Video of Construction Area

Here’s the story from the Cleveland Plain Dealer with a full update on the project’s completion.

Euclid Avenue construction nears completion
Posted by James Ewinger July 16, 2008 23:30PM
Updated at 11:30 p.m.
Chris Stephens/The Plain Dealer

Mike Lang stands behind an improbable but well-stocked bar, amid oceans of exquisitely tailored clothing.

The new bar and a line of women's apparel are in response to an 80 percent drop in his business since the Euclid Corridor project started taking shape outside his expansive windows at East 12th Street and Euclid Avenue.

"It's been horribly distressing, but I understand that instead of putting icing on a cake that's rotten, they have to do the infrastructure first," Lang said.

A part of the infrastructure that's been closed since October is to reopen by noon today.

Traffic is expected to be restored on Euclid Avenue between East Ninth and East 14th streets, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority announced Wednesday. The leg from Public Square to East Ninth is to reopen July 28.

The road construction is part of RTA's Euclid Corridor project, a $200 million effort that's remaking Euclid Avenue into a bus-rapid transit system.

"Lower Euclid Avenue is at the very heart of Cleveland, and having traffic restored there will enable thousands to move around the city easier and enjoy all the improvements the project has made," said Joe Calabrese, RTA's CEO and general manager.

Elliot Azoff, an attorney with the law firm of Baker & Hostetler in the downtown National City Bank building, welcomes the completion.

"If they ever get it finished, I can cross the street without feeling like I'm going through a battle zone," Azoff said. As a motorist, though, he's less enthusiastic about the project because he found it difficult to drive Euclid Avenue even before the construction.
The heaviest work remains at the eastern end of the project between East 86th Street and the East Cleveland line, with an expected grand opening by Oct. 25.

For all of his trials and tribulations, Lang calls the corridor project a spark for public and private investment, a rising tide of retail and residential development.

The Bonfoey Gallery, a 115-year-old art gallery at the corner of East 17th Street and Euclid Avenue, lost its on-street parking but felt a "minimal" drop in business since the corridor began to take shape, said general manager Olga Merela.

But "our business is very different from others," Merela said. "Our clients are more geographically diverse and foot traffic coming through our door is not the bulk of our business."

Bonfoey president Richard G. Moore is happy with results from the Euclid Corridor project, saying traffic flows freely and the new extension of East 17th Street south makes the store visible to a stream of cars that didn't exist before.
But at the westernmost end of Euclid Avenue, Dan Krasny has given up on any traffic until the project is completed.

He shut down his Vivo's restaurant in the Old Arcade on July 1, and laid off 35 employees.

"They forced me to close my restaurant. You couldn't even walk in my front door," he said.

"Our plan is to reopen when the street is finished, but that could change in 10 minutes," he said. "People need to be told."

RTA spokesman Jerry Masek said the sidewalk by the Arcade will reopen by late July along with the street itself.

"We realize our construction has caused some merchants great inconvenience but that is the price of progress. . . . Businesses have been closing on Euclid Avenue for years, and they were not that noticeable because there was not a multimillion-dollar project outside their door. If we weren't there, businesses would still be closing."

Masek said the transit authority hopes Vivo's reopens "because it's a good restaurant."

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