Friday, March 27, 2009

The Freeways of Cleveland

Clevelanders sure love their freeways, well, until they get into a traffic jam. And I have a special, not-so-nice place in my heart for I-7I, considering that our family had to be relocated in 1964 so they could put the freeway right through our house.

Despite those days when something causes a horrific backup on the freeway, the city is lucky to have such an extensive freeway system. Here is a primer on the freeways of Cleveland and the metropolitan area:

I-90 – This is the longest interstate highway of the United States, going from one end of the country to another. As it travels through the Cleveland area, I-90 skirts downtown Cleveland on the eastern side before it moves westward. It provides a great view of the city when approaching from the southern end of the innerbelt and I-71. It also contains theInnerbelt Bridge, which crosses the Cuyahoga River. The innerbelt stretch of I-90 provides connections to both I-71 and I-77. I-90 is also the home of Cleveland’s famous Deadman’s Curve.

I-490 – This runs from just east of the city (East 55th street) and connects with I-77 and I-90/I-71. It is only about 2.5 miles long.

I-480 - This is officially named the Outerbelt South Freeway, but no one in town refers to it by that name. It provides access for many of the Cleveland’s suburbs, from Streetsboro (in Portage County) to North Ridgeville (Lorain County). I-480 crosses the Cuyahoga River over a large valley on a pair of bridges (one for each direction) called the Valley View Bridge. According to Wikipedia, the Valley View Bridge pair are steel multi-stringer highway girder bridges that are 212 feet (65 m) high and 4,150 feet (1,260 m) long. It’s a long way down, and frankly the concrete barriers and wire fencing on the sides never look very reassuring to me.

Ohio Route 176 – This is specifically the stretch that is unofficially called the “Jennings Freeway”, which connects to I-71 on the north, and connects with I-480/Brookpark Road on the south end. It provides speedy access to the city for west-siders.

I-77 – Cleveland has the distinction of being the starting point of I-77 in the US (it terminates in Columbia, South Carolina). It begins at a split off from I-90 on the innerbelt. While it does travel through residential areas, it also travels through the heart of Cleveland’s industrial area.

I-71 – Like I-77, I-71 also begins its trek in Cleveland, starting at the I-90 innerbelt. As it travels through my old neighborhood – and former home - it connects the western suburbs to Cleveland before it heads south to Columbus, Ohio, and later terminates in Louisville, KY.

I-271 – This freeway connects those living east and south of Cleveland, all the way from western Lake County, through eastern Cuyahoga County, through Summit County. It is also officially named Cleveland Outerbelt East – but I call it the local Autobahn because no matter how fast you are going, there will always be a caravan of cars speeding by you at warp speed. I-271 connects with I-90, I-480, I-77, and of course, I-71. And for those speed demons, it has express lanes, which, despite the normal speed limits, seems to make drivers think they have the license to exceed as much as possible.

Ohio Rt 2 – This state freeway connects the northern suburbs from the east and west side of the city. It runs concurrent with I-90 on the east side of the city, and it splits away from I-90 at Deadman’s Curve. It is also referred to as The Shoreway, as the freeway runs close to the shore of Lake Erie

I-80 – This is part of the Ohio Turnpike, which is officially the James W. Shocknessy Ohio Turnpike. (Shocknessy was the first chairman of the Ohio Turnpike Commission.) It is the only toll road of the bunch that services the area. This freeway sits far south and west of the city, but connects with I-480, I-71, and I-77 that feed into the city.

If you want to take a quick drive on some of Cleveland’s freeways without even leaving your computer, check out the videos below.

The Innerbelt (Cleveland skyline in view)

I-90 to I-71 to I480

I-271 North to I-90

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Mike Golch said...

good ones,I really enjoyed the music while watching the videos.

Mike Golch said...

I can relate to the I-71 being built my family lived a a street a few blocks sout of the free way.and do not forget a chunck of the river view cwmetary was taken by the state for the free way as well.

Big Chuck said...

I'm here to tell you, the freeway system in Cleveland stinks. If the University Circle and Cleveland Clinic were located in Columbus, they would have built freeway exits to them 30 years ago. This place is so far behind the times, I can't imagine what the leadership here has been thinking.