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Community Engagement News

Tuesday, March 29, 2011




Melissa Garrett

March 29, 2011

In recent months as construction drawings for the Clifton Enhancement Project were being further developed, it had become apparent to Lakewood officials that the realities of engineering coupled with federal and state regulations would make it impossible to build the wide median imagined by the 2005 Clifton Streetscape Study. “In fact”, said Mayor Summers, “we were facing something more like a five foot wide concrete median without any landscaping, nothing like our residents envisioned.”

Over the course of the past year, the City of Lakewood, in partnership with Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and the City of Cleveland, has been developing engineering plans to implement a range of enhancements for Clifton Boulevard. In January 2010, Richard L. Bowen Associates was awarded the work through a competitive proposal process facilitated by RTA. The development of construction drawings was funded by federal dollars at no cost to the participating cities and the process was kicked off last April with a series of community meeting.

The original plan was a strategy for Lakewood to bring the Boulevard back to Clifton and implement the community’s vision established with the Clifton Streetscape Plan. “Hundreds of volunteer hour went into that process of developing a thoughtful vision for Clifton,” said Mayor Summers. The crux of the plan was a wide landscaped median that would accommodate trees and public art while providing traffic calming and make crossing Clifton safer for pedestrians.

Out of respect to the hard work and expectations of so many citizens during the planning process and in light of financial demands facing the city, the Mayor publically announced that Lakewood would no longer be participating in the project as it stood. The local match required of Lakewood for the $8 million enhancement project would have been $486,000.

Last week, the Mayor and his staff met with officials from RTA to discuss the possibility of a revised project that would not include a median but focus on the transit related upgrades to Clifton. As a result, Lakewood has agreed in principle to a refined scope that will not alter the roadway and respects recent investments made in the corridor such as the new asphalt, decorative traffic signals and ADA ramps.

These enhancements will focus on transit elements like brick bus stations that will include GPS arrival monitors as well as pedestrian safety video-phone and traffic signal synchronization, better spacing of stops and new bicycle and pedestrian amenities.

If the new version of the project is approved later this spring by Transportation Review Advisory Council, a division of Ohio Department of Transportation, the Lakewood local investment will be capped at $50,000 for nearly $950,000 of improvements. The City will redirect other existing transportation dollars to fund its share. “This is an opportunity to improve Clifton with a much smaller investment while keeping our options open for future projects funded by state and federal dollars,” said Summers.

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Curious as to "brick bus stations." Will these be replacing the current "see through" stations? I am glad Lakewood is enhancing Clifton, unfortunately not in the manner originally anticipated. I am always amazed at the money the RTA has for such items as GPS based monitors. Maybe RTA should instead develop an app for a smart phone which lets customers know where the bus may be.

THANK YOU for not completely dumping this project. While I think the medians would have been a great addition - we do NOT NEED a 7 lane highway in a residential area - we MUST pay some attention to our beloved, aging boulevard. To leverage just 50K for the RTA investment is a complete no-brainer. Let Clifton Boulevard degrade and you'll keep people on the fast track to Avon, Avon Lake, etc., where they happily drop $50 million on new highway interchanges to further the decline of our beloved town.

I have been concerned about the Clifton Blvd. project since we started receiving information last year. I live on a side street that was potentially one of the few streets with access South. I was not looking forward to the increase in traffic, as it's already very busy. I think that the enhancement revision sounds more reasonable, and will still add beauty to the Boulevard.

Please keep up the pressure on RTA and the mayor to get this project done! As another poster said, this is a small investment to keep the area viable against suburbs who have the political clout and tax base to just build new roads at will.

With gas prices not getting any lower Lakewood stands to benefit as a commuter's haven--with good schools, beautiful old housing stock and excellent transportation to downtown.

This investment will reap many rewards in the near future to putting the entire near west side back on top where it once was, especially when tied in with the other development in the area (Gordan Square, Battery Park, West Shoreway Conversion, etc...).

While The planned upgrades to Clifton are a nice touch for this community, has anyone looked at the condition of the rest of our streets lately. Its been 20 years since Madison Ave. has been resurfaced and it looks it. Lake Avenue in some parts is pretty bad. Mickinley/Larchmont/Granger is one street I avoid at all costs. Many of the rest of the side streets are deplorable. Clifton happens to be the best street to get across town right now. Maybe we should be looking at our other streets before looking at our best one first. Considering the tax rate here, I would like to be proud to live here once again.


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