long-awaited makeover of mlk jr. drive and 'suicide circle' to begin shortly

The City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County are preparing to break ground on two major roadway improvement projects in University Circle and surrounding neighborhoods that will improve vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle access to the area while making it safer and easier to navigate.

First, the City of Cleveland plans to break ground in the next few months on the rebuilding of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The scenic roadway wends its way 2.63 miles from University Circle through Rockefeller Park to the lakefront. The work includes repairing curbs, adding new ADA ramps, drainage improvements and new parking areas. The latter is the biggest change for those accessing the park by car, as there will finally be a (legal) place to park along MLK Drive.

Second, Cuyahoga County will start this fall on the reconfiguration of the much-maligned traffic circle at East 105th Street and MLK. The new intersection will be a traditional, four-way stoplight. The project will not only make the area safer for drivers, but will also enhance access for cyclists and pedestrians.

"This traffic circle has one of the highest rates of vehicular accidents in the region -- they're mostly fender benders, because people are just confused by it," says Chris Bongorno, Director of Planning with University Circle Incorporated (UCI). "The new configuration will definitely be more pedestrian and bike friendly, and will also help to connect people to Rockefeller Park and University Circle."

The reconfiguration of the traffic circle will create sidewalks on both sides of the street and better connect the Harrison Dillard bikeway to University Circle. A new boardwalk will be constructed on land freed up by the project, and pedestrians and cyclists will be able to cross the intersection at one, signalized location.

The City of Cleveland has scheduled a public meeting to discuss the MLK rebuild project on Tuesday, April 3rd at 5:30 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. branch of the Cleveland Public Library (1962 Stokes Blvd.). City officials will be on hand to discuss the project timeline and specifics and to answer questions.

Bongorno says the two projects are evidence of University Circle's commitment to enhancing access to the area's cultural amenities for all users. He also says University Circle employees are biking to work in greater numbers with each passing year, and these types of improvements will better serve them.

Source: Chris Bongorno
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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