Sunday, September 8, 2019

Akron's Innerbelt

I had Akron’s Innerbelt on my radar ever since a former coworker in the transportation industry told me about it a few years ago (thanks, Mark). While passing through over the summer, I snagged a few photographs with a basic point-and-shoot 35mm camera. Worried that the images wouldn’t turn out as well as I’d like, I shot a few frames of digital insurance as well.

The history of this “road to nowhere” is best told by Cleveland Scene’s comprehensive article. The highway was originally envisioned as an almost 22 mile stretch that would better connect the city’s downtown with the suburbs. Thousands were displaced, local businesses and neighborhoods were decimated, and in the end: just over two miles of little-used roadway was completed.

One creative Wikipedia editor attempted to gloss over the the freeway’s failure with this factoid:

“…the Innerbelt’s underuse has given it an advantage few planners had foreseen. In July 2001, the city announced that the Innerbelt would be closed for several days while a commercial was being shot.”

Apparently, the producers of The Matrix Reloaded also considered filming a scene there.

But didn’t.

“An advantage few planners had foreseen,” indeed.

Out of the 2.24 mile stretch of roadway/outdoor movie lot that was built, only a portion still remains in use today. A good chunk of it has been closed off and abandoned. Now planners get to figure out how best to repurpose the land once occupied by a stretch of highway.

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