East 66th Street’s Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative
By Bruce Checefsky
The East 66th St. Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative (TLCI) plan, completed in the summer of 2020, seeks to promote life along the corridor between Euclid Ave. and Superior Ave. by improving streets, sidewalks, lighting, and communication systems. The plan is currently in preliminary engineering where the ideas are refined, including utility surveys, geotechnical investigations, and environmental studies.
Michelle Bandy-Zalatoris, an urban planner and designer with City Architecture, outlined the project at the recent midtown community meeting held at the Hough branch of the Cleveland Public Library.
In 2015, City Architecture worked on a TLCI for East 66th St. around League Park. As the park was redeveloped and restored, the larger district became important as an asset for the community. Investments in the new library and new headquarters for the Cleveland Foundation on Euclid Ave. sparked interest in the City of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA). Five years later, a streetscape plan brought together current investments to encourage future investment in the neighborhood.
“We looked at that as an opportunity to develop a plan to represent a new standard for the development of city streets,” said Bandy-Zalatoris. “Through that process, we looked at opportunities to think about streets differently, from the process through construction, that places people first and raises the voices of the community.”
East 66th St. is home to the historic League Park, Chateau Hough vineyard, a new public library, the future expansion of the Baseball Heritage Museum, and the site of the Allen Estates project, the first project of Frontline Development, a company headed by Shelia Wright and Angela Bennett.
Bandy-Zalatoris said the community input was rigorous, especially during the pandemic when meetings were online. “There is a commitment to do the entire corridor, from Euclid Ave to Superior Avenue, a street of 1.1 miles,” she said. “We can do a lot here.”
The community asked for walkability, and with nearly 40% of sidewalks in the corridor broken or missing according to Bandy-Zalatoris, it impacts the ability of people to get around the neighborhood. A 10-foot, multi-use path is under consideration, using material that supports bicycles, wheelchairs, walkers, and runners. Street trees are in the plan. The safety elements like crosswalks and bump-out curbs reduce the crossing distance for pedestrians. New street lamps and furniture are also in the proposal.
The preliminary engineering phase needed funding after it was adopted. In 2021, City Architecture began the initial process, working with Osborne Engineering. The early design and planning process, tested with engineering standards, wrapped up in 2022.
The next step involves final engineering and refining the design, including streetscaping. Utility lines can be underground, giving more pedestrian access along the corridor.
“These infrastructure projects take a long time,” Bandy-Zalatoris explained. “I appreciate the community’s continued patience with the project and perseverance. We are committed to keeping their voice at the table as decisions every step of the way. We will have better streets and public spaces for our community.”
The final engineering will start soon, dependent on funding. Earlier this year, the city of Cleveland sent an application to the US Department of Transportation that would fund the construction of the project.
“This is a very political process where high scores do not necessarily mean you get it,” said Bandy-Zalatoris.
A community event, with interactive opportunities, is planned for April to discuss priority details for the street, and to meet with the engineering and design teams and the city team to answer questions and gather information.