New Innerbelt Bridge to Open Saturday

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CLEVELAND -- Starting next week, your commute home from work may be less congested.  That's because part of the new Innerbelt Bridge is set to open this weekend.

"It's about time," said Matthew Mosley of Cleveland.

After years of planning and building, the 4,347 foot long westbound I-90 Innerbelt Bridge is scheduled to open Saturday morning.

"I think it's going to help me out a lot," said Qiana Williams. "Especially me when I go home after work, I get to hop right on, I don't have to take the streets anymore."

The entire bridge will not be open initially.  The first bit of traffic on the new bridge will come strictly from the downtown ramps.

"From both East 9th Street and Ontario Street, those ramps will be able to enter the new bridge," ODOT Spokesperson Jocelynn Clemings said. "They will be able to exit onto Abby Avenue in Tremont or they will be able to continue onto I-90 west."

Access to I-71 from the new bridge won't happen until later in the month.  Crews still have to groove the deck, put up overhead signs, put up the railing along the bridge and stripe the roadway.  If the weather doesn't cooperate, the opening of the bridge could be delayed.

"We need temperatures over about 50 degrees and we need dry pavement in order to do the striping," said Clemings.

Once portions of the new Innerbelt Bridge open, don't expect a smooth commute home, at least not right away.

"We expect there to be some slow commutes between now and Thanksgiving but as soon as folks are more familiar with the routes, they are adjusting their commute time, they are traveling later, you'll see your commute times will definitely decrease," Clemings said.

And that's music to everyone's ears, especially those who use the Innerbelt Bridge to get home.

"Opening up this portion of the bridge on Saturday will be awesome," said Kevin Libal of Cleveland. "It will keep the flow of traffic much smoother downtown and it's going to get people home quicker."

The new Innerbelt Bridge is 10 feet lower than the current one, and that is by design.  ODOT says you'll have an unobstructed view of the skyline as you drive into the city.