Irishtown Bend Danger sign overlooking downtown skyline
A sign warns of the unstable hillside at Irishtown Bend. Credit: Jeff Haynes / Signal Cleveland

The Port of Cleveland is on track to start shoring up the hillside overlooking the Cuyahoga River at Irishtown Bend this summer, a port official told Signal Cleveland. 

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority’s board approved a $3.6 million contract Thursday morning with civil engineering firm Wade Trim, Inc., to oversee the project. The port will go out to bid in April for a construction team, according to Linda Sternheimer, the agency’s director of urban planning and engagement.

“That would hopefully put us [in] early summer where we have someone under contract, and shovels in the ground this summer,” she said. “The port’s main goal is stabilizing that hillside, and we really don’t want any longer to go by before it can be stabilized and readied for future park use.”

The port has warned that the unstable hillside could pose a danger to people and shipping traffic on the river. The agency has spent years raising money for the $54 million project, which will steady the hillside and turn the land into a public park. 

Crews will have to remove earth, install a bulkhead along the river, realign the road that runs down the hill and fix underground sewers, Sternheimer said. 

Meanwhile, the port and Metroparks together have spent at least $1.6 million in a lengthy court battle with businessman Tony George over a piece of land atop the hill. George and his son Bobby own a vacant building and large billboard at West 25th Street and Detroit Avenue. 

They’ve been fighting the port’s effort to include that land in the project. The case will see its next action later in March with oral arguments in the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals.

Sternheimer said the litigation won’t affect the port’s construction timeline. 

Wade Trim maintains a corporate headquarters in Detroit and has offices around the country, including in Cleveland. The company will act as the owner’s representative in the Irishtown Bend project, overseeing construction and inspections.

According to a news release from the port, Wade Trim will source 42% of its work from women- and minority-owned contractors. 

While hiring the firm is just one part in a long-running and complicated process, the port is casting it as a crucial step toward starting construction. 

“It’s the first step to getting shovels in the ground this summer,” Sternheimer said. 

Government Reporter (he/him)
Nick joins us from the world of public radio. He has more than a decade experience covering politics and government in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. In 2021, he produced and hosted "After Jackson: Cleveland's Next Mayor," an Ideastream Public Media podcast on the Cleveland mayoral race. He has also covered breaking news, opioid lawsuits and elections nationally for NPR.