Story and photos by Jerry Masek
When it comes to bikers and hikers, Old Lorain Road is not very user-friendly.
The road extends from Valley Parkway in the Cleveland Metroparks, crosses the Rocky River, passes a parking lot for the Little Met Golf Course, and then winds and turns up a hill behind Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital. It passes a hospital parking lot and ends at a often congested intersection with Lorain Road, just east of the hospital.
There is barely room for two cars to pass each other. Bikers and hikers must often stand in off-road brush for their own safety.
Despite those challenges, the road remains popular, as it connects the always bustling Kamm’s Corners to the picturesque Rocky River Reservation.
In a few years, that may change.
Using $50,000 from the Cleveland City Council, Cleveland Metroparks have engaged a consultant to provide a preliminary engineering study of alternative ways for bikers and hikers to access Valley Parkway and a much-used All-Purpose Trail.
Partners in the effort are the West Park Kamm’s Neighborhood Development, and Ward 17 Councilman Charles Slife. Before becoming a councilman, Slife served on the WPKND Board. As a councilman, he is a member of the City Planning Commission.
“He’s a great partner,” says Sean McDermott, Chief Planning and Design Officer.
Cleveland Metroparks periodically updates its Master Plan for each reservation. During the last update, in 2017-18, officials determined that Old Lorain Road was an area that needed further study, says Kelly Coffman, senior strategic park planner.
There is a safer alternative, McDermott says. But bikers and hikers from Kamm’s Corner must cross the 1,300 foot long Lorain Road high-level bridge to access a paved hiking trail near Story Road in Fairview Park. That’s out of the way for many people.
“We’re looking at different potential routes for hikers and bikers to reach the valley floor. For drivers, we will seek ways to improve the condition of the road. We want to provide a safe connection for all park visitors.”
The study is not looking at changes to Old Lorain Road, as it is part of the City of Cleveland.
Several alternatives will be presented at one or more public meetings in early 2021. After a preferred alternative is chosen, funding will need to be secured. Construction will follow. The process often takes several years.