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Bumpy-but-vital route on Cleveland's East side to be repaved

Posted March 28, 2012 in Articles

Author: Tom Breckenridge, The Plain Dealer

One of Cleveland's most beautiful drives is about to get a lot smoother.

Crews are ready to start a curb-to-curb repaving of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, from Chester Avenue to Interstate 90.

The 2.6-mile drive bisects Rockefeller Park and the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, an eye-catching swath of green that features sculptures, statues, stone bridges and a winding creek.

The road will also rattle your teeth.
Some 26,000 drivers a day navigate the vital-but-battered link between I-90 and University Circle, the city's largest job center besides downtown.

"It is pretty bad," said Christopher Ronayne, president of University Circle Inc. "We've been struggling with some pretty choppy infrastructure right at our doorstep. This is a welcome improvement."

"It's a major commuter route and also a destination route for various hospitals and cultural institutions," said Jomarie Wasik, Cleveland's director of capital projects. "Improving it will give better access and better traffic flow. It's just a smoother ride."

The city is managing the project and will pay 20 percent of the $3.4 million cost. State public works money will cover the rest.

There will be headaches for commuters as sections of the road are closed periodically throughout the project. Work will start shortly on the 1,200-foot stretch of MLK between Chester Avenue and Jeptha Drive. For that section, traffic will have to use East 105th Street as a detour.

Crews will work their way north and are scheduled to finish by November at North Marginal Road, just north of I-90.

Traffic will be diverted when work starts at the bridges, Wasik said. Drivers will be detoured to East 72nd Street and East Boulevard, she said.

The work includes replacing the road's pitted surface. Crews will grind down 6 inches for much of the route. In an eco-friendly approach, some of the ground material could be recycled for the new asphalt layers.

Crews might also use an asphalt mix that doesn't require high temperatures as it's applied, thereby saving energy, city officials said.

Curbs and catch basins will be replaced as needed, with an eye to ending the puddling that worsens the road's condition, Wasik said.

The project features 135 spaces for parallel parking along both sides of the road, so that drivers can visit several dozen cultural gardens that mark the city's diverse ethnic heritage.

"In addition to completely rebuilding MLK, which helps improve a gateway road, , we'll also have an option for drivers to pull off and enjoy another cultural amenity," Ronayne said.

The city will host a meeting to explain the project from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch of the Cleveland Public Library, 1962 Stokes Blvd.
The project will dovetail with a Cuyahoga County-led plan to remake the confounding traffic circle at MLK, East 105th Street and East Boulevard.

Known as "Suicide Circle," drivers crashed 131 times there between 2003 and 2005.
"They were not severe accidents, but attention was needed," said Bonnie Teeuwen, director of the county's public works department.

The Cleveland Foundation paid for the design, Teeuwen said. The year-long project, scheduled to start this fall, will eliminate the circle.

MLK and East Boulevard will link at a new intersection, just east of MLK and East 105th.

Original Article: http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2012/03/bumpy-but-vital_route_on_cleve.html

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