By Sue Botos
In keeping with a master plan that calls for a more walkable, accessible community, City Council has begun discussion of the future for the Marion Ramp, which funnels traffic between the Clifton Park Bridge and Detroit Road.
The ramp, which intersects Detroit near Rocky River United Methodist Church, replaced Marion Court prior to the construction of Interstate 90 in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It gives drivers crossing the Clifton Park Bridge, which connects Lakewood to Rocky River, the option of continuing straight onto Lake Road, or heading up the ramp to Detroit. Motorists heading east use the ramp as a shortcut to Clifton Road.
Noting the economic upturn and the addition of numerous new businesses in the Detroit Road area, Mayor Pam Bobst stated at council’s Sept. 3 committee session that it was time to look at traffic and parking issues in the area, which may call for the removal of the Marion Ramp.
“ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) says it is no longer needed, and is willing to let it transition into a higher purpose,” she said.
Earlier in her mayor’s report, Bobst noted through the month of August that $8,312,000 in residential building permits have been applied for as well as $32,545,000 in commercial authorizations. “This shows that Rockport is coming online,” she added, referring to the construction taking place at the former Center Ridge Road strip mall. Bobst added that last year, commercial permits totaled only $9,546,000.
All of this adds up to a new city valuation of $40,850,924, Bobst said, compared to $18,689,000 at this time in 2012.
While closing the ramp is by no means a certainty, council has introduced legislation calling for authorization of an application to NOACA (the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency) for $75,000 in funding through the Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative. Bobst said that this money, 80 percent of which will be reimbursed by federal funds, is the first part of a three-step plan that will consist of a traffic survey, a parking study and a feasibility study. The area under consideration stretches along Detroit from St. Christopher Church to Wooster Road.
Bobst acknowledged that the application has already been submitted due to time constraints.
Councilman John Shepherd said that talk of removing the ramp has been going on for more than 10 years and is mentioned in the city master plan. “I took out my phone and looked at Google Earth, and you can really see how it (Marion Ramp) blocks the area,” Shepherd commented. He suggested that the replacement of the ramp with a residential or retail street would do more to enhance the area.
Bobst added that the city has been in conversation with Lakewood officials, who face a similar situation with the Clifton Road “freeway,” which serves as the approach to the Clifton Park Bridge. “The Clifton area is a lot like our Tangletown,” Bobst said, referring to the winding roads and stately homes of Clifton Park. Construction of the bridge, which opened in 1964 to alleviate congestion on Rocky River’s Detroit Road Bridge, caused controversy when the accompanying approach cut through Clifton Park and consumed some Lakewood’s most valuable real estate. That city has been entertaining plans to redesign the area.
In the meantime, Bobst hopes to move ahead with plans for the traffic study. “We’re very excited and hope we are funded. We will know by December. This comes at a good time with all that we’ve invested and all that the businesses have invested,” she said.
If funded, Bobst said stakeholder meetings will be held to assess the community’s desire for alternate connectors and the impact of the Marion Ramp’s removal on residents and businesses.