The effort to install a tree-lined median on Clifton Blvd. and make other improvements to the four-mile stretch of road is quietly moving forward.
The first leg of the project, formally known as the Clifton Boulevard Transportation Enhancement Program, was completed in June when conceptual design drawings were produced based on a comprehensive engineering survey done earlier in the year.
The project is a partnership between the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA), and the cities of Cleveland and Lakewood. It will be financed entirely by federal stimulus dollars. Richard L. Bowen + Associates, Inc was awarded a $765,000 contract to design and plan the project.
The overall cost of construction has been estimated at between $6 million and $14 million. Officials are reluctant to identify a more precise number because construction funding has not yet been secured. However, someone with in-depth knowledge of the situation believes it could be in the neighborhood of $8 million.
The budget estimate provided along with the June conceptual drawings is for just under $11 million.
|Commercial District Amenities
|Subtotal Construction Estimate
|General Conditions 10%
|Artwork Allowance 1%
|Building Permit 1.2%
|Total Probable Cost
April public meeting
A public meeting was held at Emerson Elementary School on Clifton Blvd. in early April to present the public with a project update and get feedback.
The decent-sized crowd that showed up was generally divided over the issue of whether or not a tree-lined median on the boulevard would be a welcome addition to the community.
Some opponents of the project felt a median could make travel less safe by reducing sight lines and eliminating left-hand turns at certain intersections. Other detractors of the plan questioned RTA’s priorities in light of their service reductions and sharp funding decreases.
Proposal proponents said a landscaped median would make the wide and sometimes busy road more neighborhood-friendly. “I want to reclaim it as a city street,” said a resident who has lived on Clifton Blvd. for 25 years.
A couple of Clifton Blvd. business owners commented favorably on the project. One said the area needed to “bring it up a notch” in order to compete with other cities. “It’s losing that status,” he said. “Where’s the excitement?”
Steve Presser, owner of Big Fun, agreed, and added “It’s a thoroughfare [right now]. It’s a dangerous street.”
A few things to watch for: money, maintenance, and communication
Here are three areas citizens should keep an eye one:
1. Funding – will there be enough cash to build something fantastic?
Federal money will be available for this project. The question is: Will there be enough funding to fully realize the project’s more ambitious elements? It is reasonable to assume that the colored concrete intersections could be jettisoned if the budget doesn’t match the plan.
If the right level of financial support isn’t available, one hopes the project’s leaders can resist the temptation to build a median on the cheap merely for the sake of the accomplishment.
2. Maintenance – can Cleveland and Lakewood maintain upkeep on a landscaped median?
Cleveland and Lakewood are not known nationally for the quality and upkeep of their urban forests. Lakewood, for example, spends thousands of dollars annually to plant new trees on city property, and then doesn’t bother to water them. Can they be counted on to invest the money and time required to keep a landscaped median looking good over the course of many decades?
3. Communication – are Clifton residents fully aware of project’s progress and impact?
After hearing both sides sound off at the April meeting, it seems some folks are emotionally opposed to the project partly because they have preconceived notions based on false or incomplete information. Other people are upset because they feel like they don’t have a voice in the matter and it’s being forced upon them.
In order to achieve the “broad public support” leaders of the project said they are seeking, more must be done to disseminate details of the project’s progress to the people it most directly effects – residents of Clifton Blvd and nearby streets. In the same vein, a more robust effort ought to be made to promote and publicize public meetings on the issue.
Right now, for instance, a copy of the project’s design drawings should be on prominent public display at Lakewood City Hall, and the Lakewood Public Library, and also available on the Internet. If the city can find $33,000 in its budget for a 25-minute Fourth of July fireworks show, surely it can find a few hundred bucks to help establish a more informed citizenry to ensure that a multi-million dollar project meets the needs and desires of the public.
How many people will attend the public work sessions scheduled for later this month? 50 people, maybe, most of whom will be completely unfamiliar with the latest details of the project and unable to contribute anything of significance except more frustration.
Members of Lakewood City Council should stop taking their $7,000 annual salaries so literally, and put forth a serious effort to publicize these meetings. If all seven council members were to go door-to-door in their respective wards and distribute meeting reminders, it could motivate hundreds of people to show up for the event.
Small efforts would help, too, like perhaps a dozen yard signs planted along Clifton near bus stops, or even small signs on bus shelters. Even a public meeting announcement in the city’s monthly water bill mailing would be useful.
Public work sessions will be held in Lakewood and Cleveland in July, according to the Web site EnhanceClifton.com. The site, which hasn’t been updated lately and contains some broken links, actually states the sessions will be held in early July, so instead figure mid-July.
The next project deadline is August 10th, when the preliminary design documents will be due. The conceptual design material based on the field survey was provided on June 11th.
Here are some images from the conceptual designs:
A few different types of median will be used. This rendering shows how a median with a short flowering tree would look. It also includes a view of a treeless median with poured concrete. Click on the image to see more detailed view.
This is a rendering of median with a medium-sized shade tree. The type of tree could be something like a hybrid elm or a honey locust, although the city banned the planting of honey locusts on public property in 1958. Click the image to see greater detail.
Here's a rendering of the overhead view of a typical bus stop station landscape plan. There will be approximately 30 of these along the entire stretch of Clifton Blvd. They will be about 10 feet wide and 150 feet in length. Click on the image to see greater detail.
Two different varieties of bus shelters will be used. This one has a peaked roof. Click on the image to see greater detail.
A flat-roofed bus stop. Click the image for greater detail.
Here's a rendering of the proposed bus stop design at the intersection of Belle Ave. and Clifton Blvd. Notice the bus shelter's roof color and shape match the red tile roof of the house in the background. Click the image for greater detail.
A rendering of the proposed bus shelter at the corner of Cove Ave. and Clifton Blvd. It blends in well with the area architecture. Click on the image to see greater detail.
A rendering of the proposed bus shelter near Clifton Blvd. and West 115th St. Click the image to see greater detail.
This is an overhead view of the pavement and landscaping details for the commercial district on Clifton Blvd. in Cleveland, just to the east of W. 117th St. Charter One Bank is in the lower left-hand corner. Click the image to see greater detail.
Because a landscaped median is impractical for the Clifton Blvd. business district area due to traffic conditions, designers want to put concrete planters close to the road, along the sidewalk. Click the image for greater detail.
An artist's rendering of the view east on Clifton Blvd at W. 117th St. You can see the stamped colored concrete cross walk and intersection, as well as the landscape planters in the business district. Project budget cuts could lead to the elimination of the colored concrete intersection. Click on the image to see greater detail.
Here's the survey map for the Lakewood side of the Clifton Blvd and W. 117th intersection. The colored stamped concrete crosswalk and intersection can be prominently seen. Click the image to see greater detail.
The survey map of the intersection at Clifton Blvd. and Nicholson Ave. indicates that the southwest corner will get a peaked-roof bus shelter. The intersection and crosswalks will have colored and stamped concrete, assuming the final budget permits it. Click the image to see greater detail.
In earlier versions of the Clifton Blvd. improvement project, the landscaped median did not stretch to the city's border with Rocky River. In the current proposal, however, it does. This survey map of the intersection of Clifton Blvd and Lake Ave, near the Clifton Park neighborhood, shows a tree-lined median and colored and stamped concrete crosswalk and intersection. Click the image to see it in greater detail.
This survey map of the intersection at Chase Ave. and Clifton Blvd. shows why some residents -- Chase Ave. resident Colleta Graham, in particular -- don't want a median. The median would eliminate any left-hand turns from Chase Ave onto Clifton Blvd. There is a small gap in the median, but it's reserved for emergency vehicles only. Click the image to see greater detail.
This color survey map depicts the intersection of Gladys Ave. and Clifton Blvd. It shows how the median will eliminate left-hand turns off of Gladys, except for emergency vehicles. Click the image to see greater detail.
This survey map shows the intersection of Jackson Ave. and Clifton Blvd., where through traffic from Jackson will be permitted to make left-hand turns onto Clifton. Click the image to see greater detail.