Latest on the CLE lakefront pedestrian bridge

Efforts to bridge pedestrian bridge downtown

CLEVELAND - It was once on the list of projects to get done in time for the Republican National Convention that also included remaking Public Square, improving Cleveland Hopkins Airport and building a new convention center hotel.

It's an idea that's been discussed for decades .

But the pedestrian bridge connecting downtown to the lakefront was taken off that list to make sure the project was done right and not just fast.

Jeremy Paris, Executive Director of the Group Plan Commission overseeing the project, says that guiding principle still applies.

"You want a project that's going to last for generations. You don't want to be looking at it and in ten  years say, 'If we just did this the right way,'" he said.

It's hit a temporary lull with no major updates since early this year.

The Group Plan Commission oversaw the first two links of remade new space to connect and  bring downtown closer to the lakefront -- Public Square and the redone malls.

The bridge would run from the north end of the malls, cross over a railroad, the Rapid Transit Line and the Shoreway  taking walkers and bikers to a destination between the Great Lakes Science Center and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Now lakefront visitors must walk down Lakeside Avenue to either East 9th or West 3rd streets and go north to the lakefront.

A tentative plan for the bridge is  to be about 900 feet long with a "cable-stayed"  design.

$25 million of  funding from the city, Cuyahoga County and the State of Ohio is in the bank.

But the project's "guesstimated" cost is more like $33 million, leaving an $8 million gap.

"We still need to raise a significant portion of money....We think it's an achievable gap," Paris explained.

And planners are hoping the corporate and philanthropic community comes through with contributions and buys naming rights to bridge the bridge funding gap so construction can start soon..

But many possible donors may feel tapped out by the Republican Convention and other related projects and events.

The goal is to capitalize on the momentum of downtown redevelopment.. Could a long lull drag into serious delay, jeopardizing the bridge project?

"We are mindful of momentum," Paris said.

But there is no targeted date to start construction.

"We don't want to hold something out and say if we didn't get this done, that equates to a failure...I would hope we have good progress toward funding by the end of the year," Paris added.

Some think the bridge would be more needed if there were more development along the lakefront.

Paris believes the bridge will bring more needed visitors to stimulate business.

Asked point-blank if the project will be built, Paris answers with no hesitation "Yes."

 


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