Tuesday, August 18, 2015

When I-90 Was Being Built

Most of us from the Lorain area that commute to Cleveland probably rely on I-90 to get us there quickly and safely. After years of driving I-90, we now take it for granted.

That’s why it’s strange to think back to the days when I-90 was slowly being built. Like many interstates, I-90 was built in stages; a section here, a section there. It took years to get it finished. I still remember when it ended at SR Route 83 if you were heading east.

Did you know that when it was still a work in progress, the plan was for it to stretch across western Ohio separate from the Ohio Turnpike (which now bears the I-90 designation)? The divided highway that we now know only as State Route 2 was at one point going to be designated as I-90.

Read all about it in this interesting story (below) that ran in the Lorain Journal on Wednesday, August 10, 1966. It provides a nice progress report on the construction of the highway through Lorain County in the summer of 1966, pointing out that the highway (now known as Route 2) was still being built between Routes 58 and 57.

The officials interviewed in the Journal article were amazingly prophetic about the commercial and residential development that would eventually take place along I-90.


What Interstate 90 Means to Northern Ohio
Expect Highway to Attract New Industry and Business
By Charles Gray
Staff Writer

The $100 million, 77-mile “Main Street of northern Ohio connecting Sandusky and everything in between with downtown Cleveland will be completed in three years – or almost.

State highway planners say this beautiful highway will not take anything away from the Ohio Turnpike. In fact, they expect it to absorb much of the highway’s overflow traffic.

THE ROAD goes by many names now – Port Clinton By-pass, US 6, Sandusky By-pass, Jackie Mayer Highway, SR 2, Interstate 90 and the Northwest Freeway, the Lakeland Freeway and I-90-SR 2. But eventually, state highway planners expect it to be Interstate 90, which stretches from Boston to Seattle.

The new four-lane, high-speed freeway is now open to traffic from the western edge of Port Clinton to Huron, via the new Sandusky Bay Bridge, the Sandusky By-pass and the Jackie Mayer Highway.

A four-mile stretch through Amherst from Baumhart Road to SR 58 is to open to traffic this fall.

Work is progressing on the six-mile run from SR 58 to SR 57 and eastward from SR 57 to SR 254. Both of these will be open in the fall of 1968, and the route east from SR 254 to SR 611 may open the same time since highway officials hope to let that contract this fall.

The portion from SR 611 to the Cuyahoga County line will be awarded to a successful bidder in the late summer of 1967 and opened to traffic in the fall of 1969.

HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT officials said this week that it is hoped that the scheduling of the projects in Cleveland and the opening dates there will correspond with the timetable for Lorain County.

They complained that the Seven County Transportation Land Use Study has held the route up in greater Cleveland, but the road will be open to traffic downtown Cleveland by late 1969 or early 1970.

The 18-1/2 mile stretch from Baumhart Road to Huron hopefully will gain a high priority to maintain the continuity of the system. These plans are now in detailed design and there is no financing problem.

All municipalities along the route expect a burgeoning of industrial, commercial and residential growth.

Sandusky and the Lake Erie Island area expect a greater number of people, from Toledo on the west to Cleveland on the east to make use of the recreational facilities there.

Bill Evans, publicity director at Cedar Point, hailed the imminent opening of the new route as another fast access to that amusement park and hotel resort on Lake Erie. “And it looks like we’ll have 2 1/4 million visitors at the park this year, compared to 2 million last year,” Evans declared, adding that the Breakers Hotel is averaging 1,750 guests a day.
COMMUNITIES LIKE Huron, Vermilion and Amherst, which lie along the route, are looking forward to growth, particularly commercial, developing in all directions from the limited-access highway’s interchange roads.

Amherst Township, an almost sure bet to be gobbled up by annexation, sees the new route as hastening its demise.

And because of the route, Midway Mall has brought Cleveland shopping facilities within easy reach of Lorain Countians with stores which expect to attract shoppers from Sandusky to Cleveland.

Lorain County Auditor Joseph J. Mitock said the road will increase property value all along its route. “Some acreage considered agricultural has risen in land value from $200 to $800 per acre already and key acreages along the route are selling for as high as $8,000 per acre.”

“THE ROUTE will attract industries,” said Jacob O. Kamm, economist and head of the Cleveland Quarries at South Amherst. “Lorain County is already one of the fastest growing counties in Ohio and the road will make it grow even faster.

“Industries like to locate near freeways where they can get rapid delivery for their products and fast access for their employees.

“There will be less and less agriculture in the county and more and more homes and industries. There’s no doubt it will increase land values,” he added.

In Avon, Mayor Nicholas T. Mitock said “there is going to be a tremendous change for us here. This route will cut the driving time down between here and Cleveland from 45 minutes to 15 minutes. They’ll be looking here for homesites.”

MITOCK SAID Avon is on the throres of “literally exploding,” and that he is receiving daily inquiries from industries following the announcement of Norfolk and Western Railroad of plans to lease land there for an industrial park.

“We’re going to commit ourselves for sewers and water for the whole city,” he added.

The various political subdivisions along the route are now in the process of creating Motor Service Districts to control commercial growth at the road’s intersections.


A smaller article accompanied the article above on that same front page of August 10, 1966. This article tackled the issues associated with the designation of the highway as I-90.

What’s the Real Name?

WHAT’S THE name of the new freeway system which is being developed in separate stretches from Sandusky to Cleveland?

Some present designations of the route:

The Port Clinton By-pass, U.S. 6, Sandusky By-pass, Jackie Mayer Highway, SR 254, Relocated SR 2, Interstate 90 and the Northwest Freeway, the Lakeland Freeway and I-90 SR 2.

Within 10 years the route will be designated as I-90, highway officials predicted last week.

C. F. Crissinger, assistant division engineer for the Ohio Department of Highways at Ashland, told The Journal that the designation of the route as I-90 is a predictable eventuality, and that after the road is completed, a public hearing will be held to formally designate it.

Interstate 90 presently comes into Ohio from the west on the Ohio Turnpike and runs to SR 57 at Lorain and Elyria. From there it is designated already for the new freeway, so far uncompleted into Cleveland.

Crissinger added that the I-90 designation will not be made until the bonds are paid off on the Ohio Turnpike.

Officials of that road said today that although the maximum maturity date of the $326 million worth of bonds issued in 1942 for construction of that super road is 1992, that if present rate of usage continues uninterrupted, the bonds may be paid off by 1979 or 1980.


As we know now, the western segments of the highway that were mentioned above – the Port Clinton By-pass, U.S. 6, Sandusky By-pass, Jackie Mayer Highway – are not part of I-90 today. Now, as then, I-90 comes into our area from the west as part of the Ohio Turnpike, and only joins up with Route 2 east of the Route 57 interchange.

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