Interstate 490 Ohio
Interstate 490 in Ohio connects I-90 (Northwest Freeway) and I-71 (Medina Freeway) with I-77 (Willow Freeway) between the Tremont and North Broadway neighborhoods in central Cleveland. The urban freeway represents a short portion of the original Clark Freeway proposed east from the Innerbelt (I-90) to the Outer Belt East Freeway (I-271) at Beachwood and Pepper Pike.
The Innerbelt Project along Interstate 90 included work to rebuild the I-71 overpasses at the four level interchange with I-490 and several changes to ramps at the north end I-77 at Downtown. Ramps from I-90 east to I-77 south and from I-77 north to I-90 west closed by April 11, 2011, with Interstate 490 designated as the new connection for those movements.1
The I-490 connector was first envisioned as part of an urban loop taking Interstate 80S from the Parma Freeway (planned I-90) east along the Clark Freeway to the Bedford Freeway across central Cleveland. I-290 was proposed to extend the Clark Freeway east from the Bedford Freeway at the Kinsman neighborhood to the Outer Belt East Freeway at Beachwood, where it would overlap with I-271 north to I-90 in Lake County. Increasing community opposition throughout the 1960s led to several freeway cancellations, including all of the Clark Freeway east from North Broadway.
The planned route of Interstate 290 on the 1969 Ohio Official State Map (Cleveland inset):
The redesignation of Interstate 290 to I-490 was approved by American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) on November 10, 1973. The change redefined the eastern terminus from I-271 and Shaker Heights to Interstate 480 at Maple Heights. The southeastern route to Maple Heights (Bedford Freeway) from E 55th Street was never built, with the exception of the trumpet interchange and access road between I-480 and Broadway Avenue at Exit 23.
Source: December 31, 2021 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
Interstate 290 would have continued due east from the I-90 northward turn at I-71 to Shaker Heights and Beachwood.
The earliest proposal for what would later become part of I-490 incorporated a portion of the Interstate 80N loop north from Ravanna to Cleveland and west along I-90 to the Ohio Turnpike. The southeasterly jog of I-80N to Maple Heights was later incorporated into a proposed reroute of I-490 to Maple Heights before the route was dropped all together east of 55th Street.
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
East End / 55th Street – Cleveland, Ohio
East End Throwback
Button copy guide signs for Interstate 490 on I-77 south were eventually replaced in kind. Photo by Tim Kubat (04/06).
West End – Cleveland, Ohio
U.S. 42/SR 3 span I-71 at the Clark-Fulton neighborhood as Interstate 71 curves northeast to merge with the north end of SR 176 (Jennings Freeway). Two lanes continue onto I-90 (Innerbelt Freeway) east while a c/d roadway departs for I-90/490 and Exit 247A to W 14th Street. Photo by Eric Stuve (07/02/17).
Including the c/d roadways, five roadways run through the Tremont neighborhood between MetroHealth Medical Center and the Steelyard Commons retail center. The northbound lanes of I-71 partition with the c/d roadway for I-90/490 along the viaduct as Exit 247A departs to Clark Avenue and Steelyard Drive. Photo by Eric Stuve (09/26/15).
U.S. 42 leads north to Superior Avenue east to Public Square in Downtown. Interstate 90 also reaches Downtown via the Innerbelt Freeway, which extends north from the Medina Freeway (I-71). Traffic headed to Interstate 77 south from I-90 east must use I-490 as the north end of I-77 is no longer accessible from the Innerbelt east. 09/30/10
West End Throwback
- “Two Interstate 77/90 Ramps to Close Permanently as Part of Innerbelt Work.” Ohio Department of Transportation, news release. April 5, 2011.
- “Connecting I-490 to University Circle – An Examination of the Economic and Community Development Impacts of ODOT’s East Side Alternatives on affected City Neighborhoods and University Circle.”
https://www.dot.state.oh.us/projects/ClevelandUrbanCoreProjects/OpportunityCorridor/Documents/OCI490ConnectorStudy.pdfOhio Department of Transportation, February 2002.
- Opportunity Corridor – Project Overview. Ohio Department of Transportation project web site. Accessed April 13, 2016.
- “Opportunity Corridor Phase 3 Construction.”
https://www.gcpartnership.com/en/News/GCP-News/ January-2019/Opportunity-Corridor-Phase-3-ConstructionGreater Cleveland Partnership, news release. January 11, 2019.
- “Cleveland Opportunity Corridor Open.” Ohio Department of Transportation, February 3, 2022.
Page updated July 1, 2022.