Why Commuting to Downtown Cleveland Sucked Today

Just got this notice in my email:

Two more Inner Belt Bridge lanes, three more downtown ramps shut down
Posted by Patrick O’Donnell/Plain Dealer Reporter October 02, 2008 02:55AM

Two more Inner Belt Bridge lanes were shut down overnight along with three more downtown highway ramps — including a key one from Interstate 77 northbound — because of deteriorating bridge parts.

Now two lanes in each direction over the heavily traveled Interstate 90 bridge and four ramps are closed and will remain that way until at least next week.

The additional closings, which will make getting into and out of downtown challenging, came a day after the Ohio Department of Transportation closed one lane each way on Tuesday.

“The actions taken this afternoon were very precautionary,” ODOT Deputy Director Scott Varner said late Wednesday. “There was not one piece of information that gave us greater concern. The director just wanted to be as cautious as possible.”

ODOT spokeswoman Jocelyn Clemings also said the added closings, just like the ones on Tuesday, were precautionary.

“It’s a different factor of safety to make sure we’re lightening the load on the bridge,” Clemings said.

The bridge carrying traffic over the Cuyahoga River valley has been walled off by barrels in two dramatic stages the last two days, after starting the week fully open to traffic.

After receiving an engineering report Monday that some supports had deteriorated to 75 percent strength, the Ohio Department of Transportation shut down one lane each way and closed one exit Tuesday.

On Wednesday, ODOT Director James Beasley ordered a second lane each way and three more on-ramps immediately closed down. ODOT announced the move at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday and workers began blocking off lanes.

The closings cut the bridge to just two lanes in each direction and block traffic from entering I-90 westbound from E. 9th Street, E. 14th Street, Ontario Street and I-77 northbound.

ODOT is urging people to use alternate routes.

Clemings said that engineers have tested the bridge using an ultrasonic thickness gauge since receiving Monday’s report. She said the tests are not finding new defects, just confirming the findings of the report.

The next set of tests will likely come next week using strain gauges on order from out of town. Clemings said the bridge will likely be shut down completely overnight some night next week to test how different size vehicles strain the bridge.

The affected lanes and ramps will remain closed at least until those tests are completed, Clemings said. ODOT will them determine what repairs will be done and how long closures will continue.

“I don’t see the lanes opening for some time,” she said.

Varner declined to give any timetable for reopening the lanes. He said he hopes ODOT has enough information by the end of next week to set a plan for opening lanes or fixing the bridge.

Well, at least that explains why I am a half an hour later than usual getting into work this morning!

If anyone needs advice on backroad routes to get into and out of downtown Cleveland, leave a comment and I’ll try to give you some ideas.    If I’d stayed in traffic and tried to take the Inner Belt, I’d probably have been an extra half an hour late!    But at the same time, it’s kinda like dealing with airport security.   I’d MUCH rather have to deal with the inconvenience than the consequences.

Until next time,



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