Starting in Fall 2000, the Cleveland Innerbelt study conducted by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) included two alternatives involving new construction between Interstate 490 and the University Circle neighborhood in northeast Cleveland. One concept extended the freeway along railroad right of way northeast to Interstate 90 at E 133rd Street and the Forest Hills neighborhood. The second alternative outlined an at-grade boulevard between I-490 and E 105th Street along the same railroad corridor.
The freeway plan included interchanges at E 55th Street, Kinsman Road, Woodland Avenue, Stokes Boulevard, Euclid Avenue, Superior Avenue, St. Clair Avenue and E 133rd Street. The alternative was estimated to cost $1.5 billion and displace 165 residences. Community opposition from East Side neighborhoods ranged from activists, residents, Council President Frank Jackson and Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell.
The boulevard concept would range from four to six lanes separated by a median with signalized intersections. Only 25 residences would be displaced. Costs were estimated at $160 million, with ten years of construction potentially starting by 2007.2 The boulevard was rebranded and incorporated into the Opportunity Corridor Study conducted in 2004 by a consultant team. The Opportunity Corridor Steering Committee was subsequently formed comprising ODOT, the city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and several other groups, residents and business owners. The committee identified a Recommended Preferred Alternative in July 2011.3
Eventually incorporated in the Opportunity Corridor Project, a $331 million public-private partnership with the goal of redeveloping more than 300 acres of underutilized land and brown fields, the envisioned road would comprise a divided 35 mile per hour boulevard with traffic lights with pedestrian and bicycle paths. Project details were presented at an October 2013 Public Hearing. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the corridor and issued a Record of Decision on May 1, 2014.3
The Opportunity Corridor extends east three miles from E 55th Street to University Circle and E 105th Street. Construction was divided into three sections:
- Section 1 – Upgrades to E 105th Street from Quebec Avenue to north of U.S. 322 (Chester Avenue). Construction started in Winter 2015 and finished in Fall 2017.
- Section 2 – New roadway from E 93rd Street to Quebec Avenue. Construction started in Spring 2016 and was completed in Fall 2018.
- Section 3 – New roadway from Interstate 490 and E 55th Street to E 93rd Street. Estimated to begin in 2017, construction eventually commenced in Fall 2018. Major work concluded in November 2021.4
A ribbon cutting ceremony for the Opportunity Corridor took place on November 3, 2021. The boulevard opened to traffic on November 12, 2021. Landscaping and work on final punch list items continued to June 2022.5