The original plans of the Cleveland and other city and federal highway authorities called for the highway – also known as the Clark Freeway and, at various times and in various sections, as Interstate 80N and Interstate 290 – to bisect the east side of the city and the eastern suburbs; the I-290 designation would have continued north along I-271. A referendum in Shaker Heights in the late 1960s, however, barred the city from allowing the highway to pass through the city and its Shaker Lakes. This put a large and impassable hole in the plans and made the completion of the highway as a whole impossible. A segment at the western end opened in 1990 as I-490.
I-71 was to have continued along the Innerbelt to Dead Man's Curve, while I-290 was to have used the portion of present I-90 westward to the Parma Freeway near West 65th Street. After the freeway revolts prevented the Clark Freeway east of East 55th Street and the Parma Freeway from being built, I-90 was realigned to follow the Innerbelt and part of the I-290 routing. In 2003, I-490 was dedicated to Troy Lee James.
In April 2011, the ramps between I-77 and I-90 to the west were removed, making I-490 the official route between those highways and between I-77 and I-71.
Incomplete I-490 in Cleveland, looking east from West 14th Street in July 1973.
There have been subsequent proposals to employ part of the I-290 routing. The current plan, part of the Innerbelt project, proposes an expressway to University Circle, named the "Opportunity Corridor". After temporary rejections in 2002 and 2006 – the latter due to Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's loss in the 2006 gubernatorial campaign after he had reintroduced the plan as part of a plan to lease the Ohio Turnpike – the plan is active again. In June 2008, the start date for the project was planned to be 2015, earlier than the 2025 or later date previously planned. In 2009, a plan to incorporate the highway as a toll road was proposed. That same year, a director of the project was named, and the Opportunity Corridor Steering Committee was formed, holding its first meeting on May 15. As of July 2011 the earliest date of construction is 2016, providing that funding is available. According to Ohio government officials, funding may be available as a result of the passage of the 2013 Ohio transportation budget bill. The Record of Decision for the highway was issued in May 2014.
The Opportunity Corridor has a number of opponents, including a grassroots group, Clevelanders for Transportation Equity. Many of the objections are rooted in the upheaval of the local community, which is predominantly lower income and African-American.