Add one more elected official to the list of those expressing support for a bike and pedestrian lane on the new Innerbelt Bridge. Governor Ted Strickland’s press secretary Amanda Wurst says that last Friday in conversation with ODOT director Jolene Molitoris, staffers for Strickland expressed his support for including the lane in plans for the half-billion-dollar bridge.

“It is the governor’s preference that a lane be included if possible,” says Wurst. “He was hearing from local leaders that a bike-ped lane would provide the city with a multimodal transport option. He asked them to explore whether or not it would be feasible. Obviously, safety and cost factors have to be taken into consideration.”

Wurst wouldn’t say specifically, but since Congressman Dennis Kucinich and the Cleveland Planning Commission have publicly supported the idea for some time, the local leader she’s referring to is probably Senator Sherrod Brown, who sent a letter to the governor on March 4 expressing the strongest support yet for the multi-modal lane.

“With a strong and growing bicycling community in Cleveland, a sizable carless population, and new development in nearby neighborhoods, it would be penny-wise and pound foolish to build this bridge with only cars and trucks in mind,” wrote Brown.

Wurst says there’s no specific time frame for ODOT to get back to the governor on the safety and cost factors, but three design finalists will be announced March 23.

Meanwhile, activists say the cost and safety issues are manageable. As Cleveland Bikes director Kevin Cronin says, “We think any multi-modal lane designed for this bridge would more than measure up on those points. Those are distractions, not really arguments. This is a project that represents where we are going as a community.” — Michael Gill

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