Our Dead Man's Curve — the hairpin turn of Interstate 90 at Lake Erie, familiar to anyone who listens to traffic updates on local radio and TV — has threatened drivers since it opened in 1959.
The curve was built sharp because officials wanted to leave room to expand Burke Lakefront Airport. The danger became clear quickly. In 1966 and 1967, there were three fatalities. In nine months in 1968, another three perished.
"Dead Man's Curve" has long been a common American phrase for a dangerous turn in a road. Clevelanders used it informally to describe the Innerbelt Curve for years before the press adopted it in 1979, when four Yugoslavian emigres were killed there in an early morning crash. Between 1979 and 1987, seven people lost their lives there.
Its nefarious aura inspired art. In 1988, artist Joe Gierlach proposed a statue called The Ghost of Dead Man's Curve, as part of a Spaces gallery contest. Gierlach envisioned the curve-side monument as a two-story robed guide, gesturing toward safety.
"It's like the ghost of Christmas yet to come, sort of a giant effigy of the grim reaper," Gierlach says.
His idea fell by the wayside. With the passage of time, so has the reaper. The curve has been made less hazardous, with rumble strips, banked lanes and flashing lights. The Ohio State Highway Patrol, which began keeping records of the stretch of roadway in 2009, shows no fatal accidents there since. A news archive search suggests the last fatalities on the curve date back to 2001 and 2002.
But Dead Man's Curve is still dangerous. The state police say 190 people have been injured there since 2009, and trucks still occasionally overturn.
What does it take to keep greater Cleveland's traffic moving?
Despite popular opinion, the Ohio Department of Transportation actually wants to keep your car from kerplunking into potholes. So bottle up that road rage and replace it with knowledge.
- ODOT uses all sorts of goop to save your rims. In 2013, it poured 1,278 tons of asphalt, cement and cold mix and 6,227 gallons of liquid asphalt in District 12, which services Cuyahoga, Geauga and Lake counties.
- It begins each winter season with about 70,000 tons of a salt. During the 2013-14 winter - the season of the polar vortex - ODOT used 113,904 tons. That's approximately 56,739 cars worth of salt spread across interstates and state Routes.
- In 2013, it repaired 29,664 feet (5-plus miles) of guardrails in Cuyahoga, Geauga and Lake counties.
What is riding the rails these days?
Hear that rumble in the distance? That's a train rolling by, the kind that helped build Cleveland into a powerhouse of manufacturing and that now ferries Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority passengers across the city. Here's how this venerable form of transportation is doing now.
- In 2013, people rode RTA trains 9.3 million times. The Red Line alone, from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport through downtown to East Cleveland, saw 6.4 million riders.
- Private railroad companies own 245 miles of track throughout Cuyahoga County, according to the Ohio Rail Development Commission. Norfolk Southern Corp.'s and CSX Corp.'s main east-west lines through the city carried an average of 63 trains a day in 2010.
- Cleveland Commercial Railroad, a short-line operator, moves material through the city on 35 miles of leased track for carriers such as CSX and Norfolk Southern. Its cargo includes steel coils, lube oil and airplane deicer.
What progress has the city made in adding new bike lanes?
Cleveland can be dangerous for bicyclists. But slowly, the city is adding bike lanes for those who would prefer not to dodge traffic. Last year, there were 47.5 bikeway miles inside city limits. By the end of 2017, the city is aiming for at least 118.
- Just 1.8 miles of bike lanes were added in 2013 on Detroit Avenue and Edgehill Road.
- So far this year, bike lanes have appeared on eight new streets, including West 44th Street, Puritas Avenue and Superior Avenue. By year's end, the city anticipates, it will have added almost 13 new miles of bike lanes.
- To hit that goal of 118 miles, the city plans to add 44.8 miles during 2015 and 25.64 more during 2017.
- The city's bike lanes are a standard 5-feet wide, says Jenita McGowan, Cleveland's chief of sustainability. Some go up to 7 feet - plenty of room for some dignified sweating, huffing and puffing.
What goes on at the Port of Cleveland?
You may have noticed it while tailgating at a Cleveland Browns game: The Port of Cleveland, that easily ignored 80 acres just west of FirstEnergy Stadium. What goes on in those scruffy buildings on the lakefront?
- In 2013, 440 vessels docked at the port, 55 of them were international ships, primarily from Europe.
- These ships are massive. The European visitors can carry 22,000 tons. The largest vessels, the 1,000-foot-long lakers, haul more than 80,000 tons of bulk goods such as iron ore, limestone, salt and coal throughout the Great Lakes.
- The currency in FirstEnergy Stadium is hope and heartbreak, but the port's is considerably more reliable: iron ore. Iron pellets move up the Cuyahoga River from the port's bulk terminal to ArcelorMittal's steel plant. Every 8,000 tons of iron pellets is enough to make parts for 10,000 cars.
- In 2014, the port debuted its Cleveland-Europe Express line as the only containerized shipping service between the Great Lakes and Europe. As of August, 6,055 tons of containers have come through the port.
How does Burke Lakefront Airport compare with Hopkins International Airport?
Many of us only give Burke Lakefront Airport a thought when the Cleveland National Air Show's jets barrel roll over downtown. Urban dreamers think Burke should close so Cleveland can open up its lakefront, especially when we have a major airport just a short drive away.
- Hopkins handled an average of 497 flights a day in 2013. Burke oversaw 90 flights a day - with more on Wednesdays and weekends.
- It's not always quiet at Burke. Take the Cleveland Cavaliers home opener in October, for example. "On the day of LeBron's return, you should have seen the number of corporate jets here - 45 to 50," says an employee at Burke.
- Burke is a 2-mile drive from City Hall, while Hopkins is 12-miles ride.
- Burke is propped up by debt, $1,259,000 worth in 2013. Hopkins, on the other hand, had an operating surplus of $44 million. But seeing the U.S. Navy Blue Angels roar out over the Lake Erie breakers? Priceless.
- The loss of Cleveland's United Airlines hub this year encouraged critics who want to close Burke. But in September, Mayor Frank Jackson reaffirmed that he wants to keep it open, citing the difficulty of selling the land and the federal government's need for a reliever airport for Hopkins.