Lakefront pedestrian bridge to move forward with $5M feasibility study

Concept image for the land bridge. Photo from Haslam Sports Group.

Concept image for the land bridge. Photo from Haslam Sports Group.

The latest step in a decades-long push to revitalize Cleveland’s lakefront got a boost Monday when one of Cleveland City Council’s committees approved the funding for a preliminary study into a new pedestrian land bridge connecting North Coast Harbor to the mall atop the Huntington Convention Center downtown. 

Council’s Municipal Services and Properties Committee approved an ordinance on Monday allowing the Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects to accept Ohio Department of Transportation funding for a roughly year-long study into the feasibility of the lakefront pedestrian bridge. It would extend the full width of the mall into an elongated strip of greenspace described as a land bridge. 

“This project will provide enhanced pedestrian access to the lakefront, connecting [it with] downtown Cleveland,” said Capital Projects Director Matt Spronz during the meeting. He added that the bridge, along with other infrastructure improvements on the lakefront, would encourage further development as part of the Haslam Sports Group’s lakefront transformation project.

Capital Projects Director Matt Spronz speaks during Monday’s committee meeting.

Capital Projects Director Matt Spronz speaks during Monday’s committee meeting.

ODOT awarded the project $2.5 million earlier this summer, and the city will match that with $2.5 million in road and bridge bonds. The legislation permitted Spronz to accept that grant which he said will be used to contract with Osborn Engineering Company, which was originally contracted to help conceptualize the Haslam Sports Group’s plan, to conduct a traffic and feasibility study for the project. 

The passed legislation did not permit Spronz to spend the money yet, so the committee will have to draft another ordinance and pass it in a later meeting to permit the Office of Capital Projects to pay Osborn. 

That study would determine how the bridge could impact the Haslam Sports Group’s broader lakefront transformation project, and it would look into solving potential conflicts with existing roads like Route 2, which runs directly in the bridge’s proposed path. 

One possible scenario that was presented to city council earlier this year would be rerouting eastbound Route 2 to end at East 9th Street, which would effectively cut off east siders’ access to the west side via Route 2. 

But perhaps most importantly, the study would estimate a yet undetermined cost for the bridge.

“There would have to be some type of funding strategy put together like we do on most large projects where different stakeholders would be putting in funding to get to the goal of the project,” Spronz said. 

More broadly, the study signals a first step toward actualizing the Haslams’ development plan, Spronz said when Ward 1 council member Joe Jones pressed him about how the bridge would enhance the area’s economic development. That project would include preparing sites around the lakefront with infrastructure to allow for new construction like a public park and mixed use buildings, he said. 

“This will be a long project,” Spronz said. “This will take many years. Many years and many more council meetings and many more pieces of legislation.”

Learn more about Cleveland City Council, agendas, legislation, and how to view meetings online here:

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CORRECTION: A previous version of this story unclearly stated that Cleveland City Council approved the acceptance of the ODOT grant. The story has been updated to specify that the ODOT grant was approved for acceptance by City Council’s Municipal Services and Properties Committee rather than the full city council.

Michael Indriolo is a reporting fellow at The Land.

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