The area known as University Circle on the eastern edge of Cleveland is home to a significant portion of the city’s cultural, education, and medical services. Case Western Reserve University where I used to work is located there, as well as the city’s museums of art, modern art, natural history, automotive history, and Severance Hall, the beautiful home of the Cleveland Orchestra. The area also hosts two massive hospital complexes, University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic. All these institutions have resulted in a rapid growth in housing stock and this in turn has spawned new retail and shopping and eating options. The area has seen massive changes since I arrived here nearly three decades ago.
But getting to University Circle by road from (say) the airport on the west of Cleveland or from the major highways to the South and West such as I-77, I-71, and I-90 is not easy and this week saw the beginning of a long-discussed project to build a new boulevard that would cut through existing communities to connect them. The project is expected to last two to three years.
As with all such new road projects, there will be winners and losers, largely along class-based lines. The winners will be those who seek quick and easy access to University Circle such as members of the upper socio-economic classes who want to frequent the cultural institutions and those who work in the area. The immediate losers will be those people, mostly lower income, who live in the path of the new boulevard who will see their neighborhoods disrupted to accommodate the new boulevard. Supporters of the project say, as they always do, that the new tree-lined road with sidewalks and bicycle lanes will improve the neighborhoods and lead to long-term revitalization of what is currently an economically stagnant area. That, of course, remains to be seen. Other losers will be those areas that people had to formerly pass through to get to University Circle, since loss in through traffic can result in loss in business.
The Ohio Department of Transportation has provided a nice video of the project.