Cleveland: Fast-track for 'Opportunity Corridor' should mean jobs

5:22 PM, Jul 24, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Some jokingly call Cleveland's University Circle "our answer to Paris."

It's the city's most vibrant and culturally alive neighborhood with museums galore and the home of higher education with Case Western Reserve University.

It's home to two huge hospital systems that are among the region's largest employers.

And it's also largely inaccessible, very hard to get to for residents from cities on the west and south sides.

"Culturally speaking, as good as University Circle is, as good as Paris, you still have to be able to get there," said Chris Ronayne, head of University Circle Inc., the development group that oversees the neighborhood.

A planned "Opportunity Corridor" to link I-490 and, thereby, I-90 and I-77 to the circle, has been much-discussed but lacking funding, the projected construction date was 2027.

Suddenly, it's on a much faster track.

Work will start next year on phase one.

Governor John Kasich announced 41 projects statewide, many in Northeast Ohio, will be launched much faster because of funding from bonds backed by the Ohio Turnpike.

"This means there will be no stopping. We'll keep going until we're finished...It will "absolutely" become a reality said Jerry Wray, ODOT's Director.

Orlando Bakery hosted the event. The Cleveland-based firm built a new facility in Cleveland, hoping the connecting highway would be built.

"Now it seems like it's going to happen...This is going to help with expansion plans for the future," said John Anthony Orlando, the firm's spokesman.

The project will go through some strugglling inner city neighborhood, and is being touted as a way to attract businesses and jobs.

Governor Kasich is hoping this message will help him along his Reelection Road.

"This is not just about the opportunity corridor. It's about opportunities period for people to have jobs, people to have hope," he said.

Many Democrats praised Kasich.   Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, who'd hoped to get political mileage opposing a possible Kasich plan to lease or sell the Turnpike, was not invited.

Mayor Frank Jackson said, " I want to thank the Governor for his looking out for Cleveland."

Expect lots of groundbreakings next year as the election gets closer.











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