Best Ways to Avoid the Innerbelt

How long is your commute?

Most respondents have it good, with 41percent driving less than 15 minutes to work. But for the 51 percent of you whose commute stretches up to 45 minutes and for the 8 percent who travel about an hour, check out this insider's guide to avoiding the Innerbelt.

By now, we all know the drill. Every morning, the traffic reports are essentially the same: Traffic is slow on I-77 North from Pleasant Valley to Rockside Road and again at the 480 merge. Things are moving slow on the I-71 North MetroHealth curve onto the Innerbelt Bridge and I-90 West is backed up from the West 41st Street exit into downtown.

So is there really any way to avoid these traffic snarls? We found four shortcuts that can steer you around the dreaded Innerbelt bottleneck and make your commute in and out of the city's core a little easier. (Note to ODOT: The gigantic signs telling us that there's an accident ahead do not speed up our commute — they only get the rubberneckers all jacked up about seeing some crumpled metal.)

The East 55th Prospect

Who Should Use It: An afternoon shortcut best for those who work near University Circle and live in the western or southern suburbs. If you can't stand hitting every light on East 55th Street or hate waiting on the Chester Avenue I-90W entrance forever, this shortcut is for you.

• Take Chester Avenue heading west.

• Turn left onto East 55th Street.

• Turn right onto Prospect Avenue and get on I-90W to I-77S.

•From there, you can stay on I-77S or, if heading west or southwest, take I-490W to avoid the Innerbelt and then merge onto I-90W or I-71S.

The Tour de Steel

Who Should Use It: This morning shortcut is best for the detail-oriented I-77N commuter.

• Exit I-77 at Fleet Avenue and turn left onto Fleet.

•Turn right onto Independence Road, which will take you through Newburgh Heights and on past the steel mills before it dead-ends into Broadway.

•Turn left onto Broadway (which will become Rockefeller Avenue for a short time) and follow it all the way in to East 14th and East Ninth streets.

The Forgotten Highway

Who Should Use It: Everyone. To those in the know, it's called the Jennings Freeway (though no road sign designates it as such). To the outsider, it's marked as state Route 176. To the commuter, it's a secret weapon.

•I-71N morning commuters can take 480E to 176N to 490W to Broadway (this avoids the MetroHealth curve and the Innerbelt).

•I-71S afternoon commuters can take I-77S to I-490W to SR 176S to I-480W to I-71S, again avoiding the MetroHealth curve and the Innerbelt.

•Those on the West Side heading south or east of downtown can take I-90E to 176S to I-480E and stay on 480 to head east or exit onto I-77S to head south.

The I-90E Fakeout

Who Should Use It: This route is best for those heading to work downtown from the western suburbs.

•Stay in the two left lanes of I-90E. They will eventually become I-490E.

• Exit at Broadway Avenue.

• Turn left onto Broadway Avenue, which takes you to East 14th and East Ninth streets.

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