CLEVELAND — The Port of Cleveland's board of directors has approved the hiring of a Cincinnati-based construction company to handle the mammoth task of stabilizing and rehabilitating the Irishtown Bend hillside.
The $60 million project will not only go a long way into alleviating fears of the hillside falling into the Cuyahoga River, but it will help clear the way for a 23-acre park to be built. The park and its riverfront trail will become the missing link that finally connects the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to Lake Erie.
Irishtown Bend is located between West 25th Street and the Cuyahoga River, and between Columbus Road and the Detroit Superior Bridge.
Goettle Inc., a company with expertise in deep foundations, earth retention systems and marine construction, is expected to start work on the project by early September. According to Linda Sternheimer, the Port of Cleveland's vice president of urban planning and engagement, the construction project is expected to take 18 to 24 months. With the creation of the park included, the total cost of the project will be around $100 million.
“Many people don’t understand how much work has been involved in getting us to this point,’’ said Sternheimer in a statement. “Such a large infrastructure project requires intricate coordination and funding efforts. This is a big milestone.’’
The Port says the first step in the stabilization process will be to remove fill material placed on the hillside in the 1960s that will reduce the forces causing the slope failure when combined with the natural geology of the site. That slope failure has eroded the roadbed of, and caused the 2007 closure of, Riverbed Road and threatens a key sewer line that services Cleveland’s west side.
The project also includes replacing more than 2,100 linear feet of bulkhead.
“The danger that this hillside could slip into the shipping channel and impact our waterfront economy and thousands of jobs is very real,’’ added Port President and CEO William Friedman. “Such a disaster would have drastic, adverse economic ripple effects throughout the region. Many area leaders understood this and supported our efforts.’’
The Port provided a video simulation of what a collapse of the Irishtown Bend hillside would look like here.
Among the organizations cited by the Port for their efforts was the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordination Agency and the city of Cleveland, which voted to give $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to the project last month.
The ambitious Irishtown Bend Park plan was first envisioned more than a decade ago. It will transform a 23-acre green oasis hugging the Cuyahoga River adjacent to the Detroit-Superior Bridge, into one of the largest waterfront parks between New York and Chicago. The park will connect Ohio City on Cleveland's near west side to the Flats, downtown Cleveland and Lake Erie.
Irishtown Bend Park is expected to be complete in 2026.