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Cleveland passed over for $10 million federal transportation grant for Hough neighborhood

Grass grows out of a cracked sidewalk along East 66th Street in Cleveland's Hough neighborhood.
Nick Castele
Ideastream Public Media
A cracked sidewalk along East 66th Street in Cleveland's Hough neighborhood. The city unsuccessfully sought more than $10 million to overhaul the street.

Cleveland came up short in its bid for a $10.7 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant to redesign East 66th Street in the city’s Hough neighborhood.

The project, dubbed DREAM 66, would add to the street a multi-purpose trail, a wider sidewalk, pedestrian crossings, benches and bike parking. The grant from the federal government’s $2.2 billion RAISE program would have covered most of the cost of the $15.7 million project.

Home to the historic baseball field League Park and the urban vineyard Chateau Hough, East 66th Street connects the area to the city’s Midtown neighborhood. The improvements would link budding developments in Hough with the Cleveland Foundation’s new headquarters.

Earlier this month, Mayor Justin Bibb and a group of government and nonprofit leaders toured the street to highlight the city’s application. The city and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency have also committed funds to the project.

“While the City was not awarded a 2022 RAISE grant, we look forward to de-briefing with the U.S. Department of Transportation to learn how we can strengthen future applications,” Marie Zickefoose, Bibb’s press secretary, wrote in an email to Ideastream Public Media.

Supporters of the DREAM 66 project could seek the RAISE grant again, or they could look to other programs funded by the federal infrastructure law signed by President Joe Biden last year, according to NAOCA Executive Director Grace Gallucci.

Though Cleveland didn’t win money this time around, the application process helped the city and NOACA work more closely with other advocates of the project, like the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Cleveland Foundation, MidTown Cleveland community development corporation, Baseball Heritage Museum and Cleveland Public Library, she said.

“We have grown closer together as a team, as a region, and we believe that we will be successful in implementing that project,” Gallucci said. “It just might take a little time or a little bit of a different road or path, but we will get there.”

Cleveland also went out for the RAISE grant last year, seeking $15.6 million for the project, according to a Transportation Department spreadsheet of applicants.

More than 160 projects around the country won funding this year, including four in Ohio. The Transportation Department awarded $20 million to Cincinnati for a similar streetscape overhaul that would connect the Lower Price Hill, Queensgate and West End neighborhoods.

The Ohio Department of Transportation won about $24.5 million to replace intersections with roundabouts on U.S. Route 6 and Rye Beach Road along the Sandusky Bay. Mansfield won about $7.4 million for streetscape improvements, and Washington County won $1 million for a project in Marietta.

Nick Castele is a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media.