Gov. DeWine’s approval of new I-71 interchange is a controversial tale of 2 cities

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has already given the green light for the construction of a new I-71 interchange.

The plan to help alleviate traffic in one of the highest accident rate areas in the region. But, the idea isn’t sitting well with one community that fears it will force people from their homes.

Boston Road is one potential sight for the new I-71 interchange, but the idea of constructing it is like a tale of two cities.

Strongsville is largely in favor of adding an exit and entrance ramp between congested routes 82 and 303. State Representative Tom Patton sponsored the legislation and says the distance between the two exit ramps on I-71 is six miles apart, which is the largest distance between urban intersections in the entire interstate system.

Representative Patton tells 19 News, “The critical aspect of this is at the intersection of 71 and 82, it’s always among the very top accident areas in the state.”

But, neighboring Brunswick is largely against the new interchange, according to Councilman Nate Hanek, “This is a terrible idea. This is going to turn this residential neighborhood into a commercial corridor and ruin people’s homes.”

However, Representative Patton says commercial traffic would be banned from the residential area.

Shrea Kellums has lived in her home on Boston Road in Brunswick for over 30 years, and fears she will be forced to sell by eminent domain, “We’re almost ready to retire in another five or six years. We have put in new windows, and are planning on getting new siding, is it all a waste of money?”

Kellums also fears the jet fuel pipeline on her street would have to be moved, “Moving it would be dangerous. Could it be another East Palestine?”

But, Brunswick Councilman Hanek says there are even more concerns about the stress it could put on local tax dollars, and then there’s what he feels is the interference of big government in local government decisions. “This is just a bad idea by big government to do what they want,” Hanek said.

Representative Patton argues the new interchange would make travel safer for the entire community, and improve the quality of life for people like residents on Howe Road who often can’t get out of their driveways for 20 to 30 minutes because of all the traffic.

The long-time state representative also says the cost of construction would not strain local governments, it would all come from the state, “By utilizing highway safety funds that state’s going to pay both shares, the state share and the local share.”

A new study will determine the best location for the interchange, and according to Representative Patton, construction won’t begin until 2030.

Michelle  Nicks

Michelle Nicks (WOIO)

Michelle Nicks joined 19 News in March 2020. She comes to Cleveland from WFMJ in Youngstown. Michelle has been named Best Reporter by the Ohio Associated Press five times, including most recently in 2018, as well as being nominated for six Emmy Awards during her career.