MEMORIAL SHOREWAY (officially called Cleveland Memorial Shoreway), was the first east-west freeway in Greater Cleveland. Originally a strip of road along the lakefront from E. 9th to E. 55th, the 4-mile stretch of road was envisioned as part of a larger system of roads. Using work relief funds and labor from the WORKS PROJECTS ADMIN. (WPA), buildings were razed, the lakefront extended by landfill, and the strip was paved. Ten thousand WPA workers completed enough of the preliminary road work for access to the GREAT LAKES EXPOSITION in 1936; within 2 years the road reached the Illuminating Co. facilities. The project, requiring $6.5 million in labor and $1.7 in materials, was the largest WPA job in the nation. Although planning delays prevented the WPA from laying a second strip of pavement and building grade separations from side streets, the roadway was opened to traffic in 1938. The city had undertaken the shoreway project on the assumption that it owned all affected land; when the cleanup was complete, however, corporations claimed the property as their own in 1938 and litigation followed. The new road remain officially unnamed until World War II, when it became the Memorial Shoreway in honor of the city's war veterans.
In conjunction with the Shoreway construction, the Cuyahoga County commissioners built the MAIN AVE. BRIDGE and the E. 9th St. interchange (completed 1940) and planned a West Shore Dr. from EDGEWATER PARK to ROCKY RIVER. While World War II interrupted further construction, the Regional Assn. of Cleveland, together with the city and county planning and engineering departments and the State Highway Dept., developed a master plan for freeways, defined as limited-access highways. The master plan designated downtown Cleveland as the hub of a half-wheel of expressways, parkways, and feeder roads. The spokes were to include the East Shoreway, the Lakeland Freeway, the Heights Freeway, the WILLOW FREEWAY, the Medina Freeway, the Berea-Airport Freeway, and the West Shoreway; concentrically rimming the wheel were projected innerbelt and outbelt freeways as well as a university freeway. A central interchange in downtown Cleveland would permit easy access to all freeways. In 1956 the $60-billion Interstate Highway Act ensured that much of the 1944 Cleveland plan would become reality. The Memorial Shoreway itself, which had been extended to BRATENAHL at E. 140th in 1941, permitted crosstown traffic with some stops but was incomplete between E. 55th and E. 72nd. In 1953 a $7 million addition connected the sections of memorial shoreway and widened the original highway to make it an 8-lane, nonstop expressway. The wave of highway construction in the late 1950s joined the Memorial Shoreway to the new Lakeland Freeway, which by 1963 stretched eastward toward Painesville. Together the 2 freeways constituted the local section of I-90.