ODOT moves up second phase of Innerbelt Bridge to 2019 instead of 2026

ODOT looking for funds to finish bridge in 2016

CLEVELAND - The road to the biggest bridge project in Ohio history has been paved with delays impacting Cleveland businesses, motorists and residents.

The first new Innerbelt westbound bridge is still set to be finished by the end of next year.

ODOT delayed finishing the second bridge for eastbound or inbound traffic to downtown Cleveland until 2026 because of budget concerns. But on Wednesday, ODOT announced it found room in its budget in part by making operating cuts and expects to have the second phase of the Innerbelt Bridge finished by 2019.

That's still three years later than the original plan, but seven years earlier than the delay that ODOT previously announced.

Cory Riordan with Tremont West Development Corporation said the push by businesses and residents in Tremont to urge ODOT to finish the job by 2016 and will continue petitions and meetings with local and state political leaders.

About 8,000 people live in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood, which is home to many businesses, restaurants and coffee shops. Eight new businesses have opened in Tremont in the last year, despite all of the construction on the bridge, which is the main link for traffic into the popular neighborhood filled with Cleveland hotspots.

But business leaders worry that delays in the new Innerbelt project beyond the original completion date of 2016 will hurt long-term investment.

ODOT plans to build two new bridge spans to replace the old-single span Innerbelt Bridge, which was built in 1950 and has needed many safety repairs in recent years.

ODOT said the plan is that once the first bridge is built the old Innerberlt Bridge will be demolished.

That means the inbound and outbound traffic will have to share splitting the new five lane bridge until the second bridge is finished creating congestion for several years

ODOT's Steve Faulkner said ODOT is still looking for funding to move the entire bridge completion date back to 2016..

Stay with NewsChannel5 and newsnet5.com for continuing coverage of this story that impacts nearly 140,000 motorists who use the bridge everyday.

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