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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History


The CLEVELAND JETPORT (LAKE ERIE INTERNATIONAL JETPORT), a proposal to build a new international jetport off Cleveland's shoreline, was first introduced by Mayor Ralph Locher in June 1966. In 1969 Dr. Abe Silverstein, director of NASA'S LEWIS RESEARCH CENTER unveiled a more comprehensive $1.185 billion plan to locate such an airport 1 mile north of Cleveland's downtown. The premise of both proposals was that by the 1990s, CLEVELAND-HOPKINS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT would be insufficient to serve the region's commercial air transportation needs. The Lake Erie Regional Transportation Authority (LERTA) was established in March 1972 to facilitate planning for a jetport. Four of LERTA's board of trustees were appointed by the county commissioners and 6 by Cleveland, with Dr. Cameron M. Smith as executive director. The $4.3 million feasibility study began in 1972 with an initial contribution of $1.2 million from the GREATER CLEVELAND GROWTH ASSN.; the Federal Aviation Administration provided most of the additional funding. The study, completed in 1977, proposed building an airport inside a stone-and-sand dike 5 miles off Cleveland's shoreline. The 13-mile dike would surround a man-made land mass reclaimed from the lake. The jetport would be accessible by RTA and a highway connecting it to the INNERBELT FREEWAY.

Proponents argued the practical need for a new airport, the additional jobs it would create, and its favorable effects on Cleveland's image and business climate, but Mayor Dennis Kucinich and other key city officials were opposed to the jetport. Detractors cited the cost-benefit ratio, airport renovation at Cleveland Hopkins, weather conditions on the lake, and the failure to explore alternate forms of transportation. When an FAA study rejected the need for a new airport in Cleveland, at least until the year 2000, and discontinued its support in 1978, LERTA dismissed its remaining employees and restricted its functions to yearly board meetings.

Lake Erie Regional Transportation Authority Records, WRHS.

Last Modified: 14 Jul 1997 11:20:19 AM

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