Two Innerbelt Bridge projects reduce lanes, close exits for next three years

CLEVELAND - Two new Innerbelt Bridge construction projects will affect west side inbound drivers for the next three years.

"Three years?" said Audrey Bonham, a Cleveland State University student who was stunned to hear the news. "That's annoying. Then I'll have to leave earlier."

"It's ridiculous," said Becky Raspe, also a Cleveland State University student. "As a college student, it's not fun waking up earlier than I have to."

Beginning Friday night, the East 22nd and Carnegie exits off of Interstate 90 eastbound will be closed. Thursday night, Interstate 71 northbound, north of the Jennings Freeway, was reduced to one lane.

The Ohio Department of Transportation said both projects are to prepare to move traffic to the new Innerbelt Bridge when it opens later this year.

"Our most important message through all of these construction changes is to opt for the alternate," said Jocelynn Clemings, public information officer for ODOT.

To access the East 22nd and Carnegie exits, ODOT is re-routing drivers via I-490 and 77.

"Anytime there are traffic changes, the few days taking place after those changes, you'll see some slow downs and backups," added Clemings.

But Cleveland State students and other commuters are skeptical that traffic tangles will only be temporary. In particular, students are concerned how the construction may add extra time onto their already busy days.

"I'm a student so when I work, I need to work all of my hours to pay for the school that I go to," said Bonham. "So I'd have to cut my hours or change my hours, my availability, which will frustrate my boss."

"I try to work part-time so that's going to take a dent out of everything," said Robert Moody.

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