Traffic-calming ideas for crash-ridden Franklin Boulevard to be aired by NOACA at Tuesday meeting (photos)

March 2, 2018 GMT

Traffic-calming ideas for crash-ridden Franklin Boulevard to be aired by NOACA at Tuesday meeting (photos)

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Long-suffering West Siders will get a chance Tuesday to comment on the latest version of plans to calm traffic and reduce car accidents along Franklin Boulevard.

More than 160 accidents in recent years caused at least three deaths according to news reports and scores of injuries on the predominantly residential boulevard, igniting bitter complaints.

The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency will unveil options for Franklin Boulevard including curb extensions, or “bump-outs,” lane-narrowing neck-downs, mini traffic circles, or lane diverters that block traffic from using lanes in one direction.

The meeting will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at St. Paul’s Community Church, 4427 Franklin Blvd.

The plans developed by NOACA address a 2-mile stretch of the boulevard from West 25th to West 85th Street where the often-exceeded speed limit is 35 mph.

State law requires a 35 mph limit for residential blocks that continue for a mile or more, said Ward 15 Councilman Matt Zone, who said he’s been fielding complaints for years about crashes on the boulevard.


In September, 2010, a three-year-old boy was hit by a car at West 38th Street and Franklin Boulevard after exiting a parked car, according to the WOIO Channel 19 website. The child later died of his injuries.

In February 2011, Luis Vasquez and Juanita J. Gonzalez were killed at West 74th Street and Franklin Boulevard after being hit by a car driven by a drunk driver, according to the The Metro West Community Development Organization website.

Last August, a speeding car pursued by a Cleveland Metroparks ranger flipped at the intersection of Franklin and West 74th Street, Zone said.

The accident “really blew my top,” he said.

Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack, whose district includes part of the boulevard, has also complained vociferously about the need to slow traffic, Zone said.

The city re-striped the boulevard several years ago to create a parking lane on the north side of the street, reducing it to two travel lanes, Zone said, but that didn’t solve the problem.

Support for change

The administration of Mayor Frank Jackson supports the effort to improve safety on the boulevard, Zone said.

The administration applied recently for technical assistance from NOACA, which is nearing completion of a study conducted through its Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative that’s worth $50,000 to $75,000, Zone said.

The plan would help build a case to fund construction of the changes it recommends. Zone said he hoped improvements could begin with partial funding in 2019 and be finished by 2020 with full funding.

At that point, the Jackson administration feels it could be easier to persuade the state to allow the lower speed limit because the street’s design would no longer be functionally continuous, Zone said.

City Planning Director Freddy Collier was not available for comment Thursday, the administration said.

Changing demographics

The Franklin Boulevard story marks the latest chapter in efforts by residents and public agencies to increase safety in a city whose streets have been engineered for decades primarily to maximize traffic flow.

The plans also grew out of changing demographics. Franklin Boulevard traverses Ohio City and Detroit Shoreway, two neighborhoods that have lured middle class residents back to Cleveland, reversing decades of out-migration, said Ashley Shaw, economic development and planning manager for Ohio City Inc., which is collaborating on the study.

The Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization is also supporting the study.

The boulevard is a prestigious West Side address with some of the aura once associated with Millionaire’s Row on Euclid Avenue. It is lined in aeas with Victorian-era mansions and houses in Gothic Revival, Italianate and Queen Anne styles, often elaborately painted to highlight gingerbread details.

New residents are demanding attention to the tendency of commuters to race through the neighborhood, a place where families want their children to be able to walk or ride a bike safely to school, Shaw said.

Mapping crashes

A graphic map prepared by NOACA and a related interactive map on the agency’s website showed 162 accidents had occurred along the boulevard between 2012 and 2016, dozens of them involving injuries.

Of the total, nearly a third of them, or 51, occurred between West 55th and West 48th streets, which Zone called the most dangerous stretch.

The traffic-calming project on Franklin Boulevard aligns with other city efforts, including its 2011 Complete and Green Streets ordinance, a Safe Routes to School plan and the emerging Vision Zero project, which Zone said is aimed at eliminating traffic-related deaths.

Having your sayWhat’s going on: Public feedback session on Franklin Boulevard traffic calming study. Venue: St. Paul’s Community Church. Where: 4427 Franklin Blvd., Cleveland. When: Tuesday, March 6, 5:30-7 p.m. Who’s invited: Everyone. Families with children are welcome; refreshments will be provided. Contact: Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization: 216-961-4242 x 265.