15-point-eight-billion-dollars: that’s what the Northeast Ohio Area-wide Coordinating Agency says is needed for the next twenty years of transportation infrastructure work in and around Cleveland.
The plan, which is updated every four years, calls for about 90% of spending to go for maintaining existing infrastructure along with a handful of upgrades and new construction. But, in a break with the past, the newest plan earmarks about 10% for projects that have what the agency calls an “aspirational component”--such as expanding mass transit. Spokesperson Jocelynn Clemings says Cleveland’s RTA could be a part of that. “Could we expand that rail system? Is there any interest in it? So what we have on paper there is very preliminary. We have not done a lot of the research on what the cost implications may be, or maintenance into the future. But, is it something people would be interested in.”
Clemings says the focus of the 90% of the plan on fixing-up and then maintaining existing infrastructure comes from surveys NOACA did with over a thousand respondents. “A majority of those people told us, ‘you know, we think our infrastructure is big enough; there are enough lanes. But we want to do is make sure it’s in good shape. You know we want to maintain what we have. When I drive down my street every day, there are potholes. I want those potholes filled.”
The biggest single project in the next four years will be bridge updates on I-480 in Cuyahoga County. That will run about $280-million.
NOACA serves Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Geauga, and Medina Counties.