Cleveland is about to get even more connected, thanks to Cleveland Metroparks. Five new trail projects are either in progress or ready to take flight, in part due to a $7.95 million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant awarded in 2016.
Map overview of the TIGER grant projects“If you look at old aerial images from before the highways and railroads came in, many of these areas were contiguous,” says Sara Maier, Senior Strategic Park Planner for Cleveland Metroparks. “This is an opportunity to get back those connections in the neighborhoods.”
Collectively, the five projects will total over four miles and fill critical gaps in Cleveland's active transportation network. To secure the TIGER grant, the five projects were grouped together in a singular project titled "Reconnecting Cleveland: Pathways to Opportunity."
According to Maier, the new trails and connectors won’t just have an impact on Cleveland’s recreational assets, but will also be a game-changer for improved mobility. “More than a quarter of Cleveland residents do not have a vehicle, so it’s an important means of transportation,” says Maier.
An overview of the projects on tap:
Wendy Park Bridge: Spanning 500 feet over the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks, the $6 million Wendy Park Bridge will link the Cleveland Foundation Centennial Lake Link Trail to Wendy Park on Whiskey Island—in an effort that Bike Cleveland says will “radically alter how riders and pedestrians access this area.”
Sean McDermott, chief planning and design officer for Cleveland Metroparks, says that the project is the realization of two decades worth of planning and a long-awaited answer to the question: “How can we connect the West Bank of the Flats to the lakefront for pedestrians and bicyclists?” It is estimated for completion in late 2020.
Whiskey Island Connector: Picking up where the Wendy Park Bridge project leaves off, the 1.25-mile Whiskey Island Connector will enable bikers and pedestrians to access Edgewater Park and the Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway via the Wendy Park Bridge.
Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway Connector and Canal Basin Park Connector: These two smaller projects are being grouped together, with the former linking the Cleveland Foundation Centennial Lake Link Trail to the Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway and the latter linking the Cleveland Foundation Centennial Lake Link Trail to Canal Basin Park, Rivergate Park, the RTA Waterfront Line, and downtown. Both projects are set for completion this year.
Red Line Greenway: The Architect’s Newspaper called it “Cleveland’s answer to The High Line,” and it’s swiftly taking shape following design completion in May (with total completion slated for late 2020). Situated next to the RTA Red Line, the two-mile trail will run from the Zone Recreation Center at W. 65th St. to Franklin Blvd. and Columbus Rd.—connecting with at least seven trails along the way. According to McDermott, the Red Line Greenway will span eight neighborhoods.
All five projects will work together to connect to the Towpath Trail, which Maier calls the “major spine” that unifies the growing network of trails. Adds McDermott, “By 2021, you’ll be able to take the Towpath Trail and connect to all these trails we’re discussing today.”
McDermott points out that The Trust for Public Land and LAND studio were instrumental in helping to secure the TIGER grant, and he adds that the projects wouldn’t be possible without an array of other funding sources (including NOACA and the Clean Ohio Trails Fund).
For Maier’s part, she’s excited to see these long-awaited projects become reality. “These trails have been talked about for years and years,” says Maier. “Now they’re starting to make it onto the ground and get realized.”