The Port of Cleveland and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) have applied for a federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant to help pay for new bulkheads as part of the Irishtown Bend project.
The grant application seeks $11.5 million in INFRA funds to stabilize the hillside that sits on the banks of the Cuyahoga River and protect the $3.5 billion and 20,000 jobs generated locally by maritime commerce.
Engineering studies commissioned by the Port have shown a serious threat of catastrophic collapse of the Irishtown Bend hillside into the river, which would shut down shipping and threaten decades of efforts to rehabilitate the Cuyahoga’s environmental quality.
The Port and NOACA’s application for INFRA dollars for Irishtown Bend is an innovative approach to solve a long-term threat to the local economy from the type of “crumbling infrastructure” that INFRA was intended to address.
“The Port of Cleveland has been working for years to develop an innovative solution to the Irishtown Bend situation. We saw INFRA as an opportunity to fund part of that solution, even though transportation grants are more commonly used for roads, bridges, and highways,” said Will Friedman, Port president and CEO.
“We said, ‘Why not maritime transportation?’ Most global commerce is shipped by water, and more than two billion metric tons of foreign and domestic cargo worth $2.5 trillion move through American ports. It’s critical for our national and local economies that we continue to invest in maritime infrastructure, and Irishtown Bend is a great example.”
The Cuyahoga River is a federal navigation channel and part of the federal M-90 Marine Highway Corridor, which qualifies under the INFRA guidelines. If approved, the INFRA dollars would be matched by $10.5 million in local dollars already pledged by the State of Ohio, City of Cleveland, and Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD).
Once the hillside is stabilized, it will safeguard the local maritime economy – but it will also set the stage for a transformative park project long envisioned on the abandoned hillside, said NOACA.