By Sue Botos
City officials have received word that NOACA (the Northeast Ohio Area Coordinating Agency) will supply a grant to cover most of the cost for a study concerning Detroit Road and the future of the Marion ramp, which directs vehicles from the Clifton Park Bridge to the heart of Rocky River.
During City Council’s first legislative session of the year, Mayor Pam Bobst announced she had learned from Bay Village Mayor Deborah Sutherland, the Westshore NOACA representative, that Rocky River will receive a $75,000 grant from NOACA’s Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative toward the $93,000 study. The balance is hoped to be made up with zero-interest loans.
The three-part study will address traffic, parking and the feasibility of removing the Marion ramp. The area under consideration stretches along Detroit Road from St. Christopher Church to Wooster Road.
Council discussed the future of the Marion ramp last fall. The structure, which intersects Detroit near Rocky River United Methodist Church, replaced Marion Court prior to the construction of Interstate 90 in the 1960s and early 1970s. It allows 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. Those traveling east use the ramp as a shortcut to Clifton Road in Lakewood.
At the Sept. 3 council committee session, Bobst noted the city’s economic upturn, particularly the boom of new businesses in the Downtown River area. While the growth is welcome, it can present parking and traffic issues, and possibly necessitate the removal of the Marion ramp.
“We’re not so sure that this is the best idea. We’ll need public conversation,” Bobst stated at the Jan. 13 council meeting. She did note that ODOT (the Ohio Department of Transportation) sees the ramp as obsolete, and that its complicated infrastructure is costly to maintain.
“Because ODOT has the willingness to walk away does not mean it makes sense,” Bobst stated. She added that if the Marion ramp were gone, possibly replaced by residential streets, an alternative north-south connection would be needed to link Lake Road and Detroit.
“You couldn’t just use Linda Street,” she stated.
City officials have also noted the ramp divides the area, effectively isolating some parts. Its removal is also mentioned in the city master plan.
Since a paving project for Detroit Road is planned by ODOT for 2015 or 2016, Bobst said that doing the study now would provide information on how to manage traffic during that procedure as well. “We want to stay ahead of things with this design,” she stated. She said the funding for the traffic study also positions the city to receive other federal funding for work on Detroit.
Bobst said any project involving the Marion ramp would be in partnership with Lakewood, which will be revamping the Clifton Road “freeway,” or the approach on its side of the Clifton Park Bridge. Construction of the bridge and approach, which opened in 1964, caused controversy when it intersected stately old neighborhoods and consumed some of the city’s most valuable property.
Bobst said that stakeholder meetings will be held to gather community opinion about the ramp and any ideas for alternate connections.