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Cleveland Rapid Rail Construction Projects (Non-Service Issues)

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Here is an interactive map I created with web links to specific rail projects in Cuyahoga County (mostly RTA Rapid transit projects). I thought this might help orient visitors to what's going on project-wise with rail transit in Greater Cleveland...

 

http://members.cox.net/corridorscampaign/Cleveland%20Rail%20Projects.ppt


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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I received this e-mail today, I thought some of you architecture junkies might know of some firms to pass it on to:

 

Please send this RFP from the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority to any local, national or international Architecture/ Planning / Engineering firms or other interested parties who might want to put together a Design Team for the Cedar Hill Project. This is a incredible, potentially transformational transit oriented project for Greater University Circle Area and the City of Cleveland. Below is a link to the RFP.

 

RFP for Cedar Hill Project Design Team:

 

http://www1.gcrta.org/bc_contractopps_SolicitationsDetail.ASP?listingid=365

 

 

Lillian Kuri

Director of Special Projects

The Cleveland Foundation

1422 Euclid Avenue, Suite 1300

Cleveland, Ohio 44115

216.685.2026

lkuri@clevefdn.org

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RTA plans dramatic improvements for Cedar Hill station -- Steven Litt commentary

http://www.cleveland.com/arts/index.ssf/2008/11/rta_plans_dramatic_improvement.html

by Steven Litt / Plain Dealer Architecture Critic

Sunday November 30, 2008, 12:00 AM

 

Infrastructure, that clunky word for bridges, highways and mass transit, is about to become a very hot topic. President-elect Barack Obama has said he wants to unleash a flood of federal dollars to jump-start a sputtering economy and fix the crumbling bones and arteries of American cities after decades of neglect.

 

The question is whether the money will be spent on projects that are smart, well-designed and well-positioned to boost local economies over the long haul.

 

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has a new example of what smart infrastructure planning might look like. It's a plan for a $10 million bus and rail transfer station in University Circle...

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This is the direction that RTA should be moving to with all of their infrastructure design; a forward thinking approach to the movement people throughout the city.  Now I'm not saying that this type of object should be simply placed with no relation to contextual concerns, but this is the type of design that will change people's perceptions of public transit, not the off the shelf design for the W117th Street station, for example.

This is a very exciting new direction for RTA, and I'm glad they took the initiative to push towards contemporary design.

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I would go even further and say they're both a tremendous step forward for Cleveland. It's great to see good, progressive, contemporary design .. not to say that that never happens. I just get excited when it does. It increases my confidence in Cleveland's design standards on the whole.

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There are lessons here all around, for anyone who cares about saving places like Cleveland from a death spiral of shrinkage and decay.

 

The project will replace a decrepit rapid transit station and bus transfer center at the intersection of Cedar Glen and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in University Circle with a park, bike trails and a new transfer station.

 

Today, the intersection is one of the busiest and ugliest in the city. It's also highly visible because it functions as a gateway to University Circle, the city's burgeoning hub of medicine, education and the arts.

 

So which is it? Is the city in a death spiral or does it have areas of growth? It can't have both. I realize the PD feels it must have at least one negative comment about Cleveland in each relevant article, but when it contradicts itself, the negative predisposition becomes even more apparent.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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Now I'm not saying that this type of object should be simply placed with no relation to contextual concerns, but this is the type of design that will change people's perceptions of public transit, not the off the shelf design for the W117th Street station, for example.

 

 

I like this preliminary conceptual design too.

 

But that statement does not make sense to me (forgive me, I'm getting over the flu right now).

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Wow.  This should be a concept for all future station rebuilds and new stations*!

 

RTA is moving in the right direction.  Now lets hope its functions as well as the concept looks.

 

 

* if that ever happens.

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Now I'm not saying that this type of object should be simply placed with no relation to contextual concerns, but this is the type of design that will change people's perceptions of public transit, not the off the shelf design for the W117th Street station, for example.

 

 

I like this preliminary conceptual design too.

 

But that statement does not make sense to me (forgive me, I'm getting over the flu right now).

 

Using this scheme as a prepackaged unit to be placed where a new station is needed would be a mistake IMO.  Not that RTA has said it would do that, just spouting off at the mouth I guess.

In the end, I applaud RTA for the work they are doing here and at Mayfield, and hope this momentum continues.

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I agree that this design looks great.  I love that it has some bright color and fresh geometry.  I'm really eager to see the site plan...because I have no idea what Litt is talking about here:

 

Among other things, the design means that thousands of pedestrians, including hundreds of students arriving for classes at nearby John Hay High School, wouldn't have to cross Cedar Glen or MLK to get to class.

 

How does this design eliminate the crossing of MLK?  And isn't it already possible to reach John Har from the station without crossing Cedar?

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There are additional renderings and site plans on that website, btw.

 

I like that the design could bring some color to this urban gateway.  But the design also seems a little "tar-JEY" for me.

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It worked for me.  The entire page is a Flash presentation, so make sure you have the most recent version.

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Yeah, I'm very impressed with RTA and how they've stepped up and realized the energy that mass transit can enduce into architecture and the surrounding context, and allowed the designers to do it.  Couldn't be more excited about this project, and hope it is the first in a line of contemporary Rapid Stations.

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The Cleveland Foundation should be thanked for this. They provided guidance and gave money so that RTA could hire a quality architect.

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I'm surprised that no one is mentioning... in addition to the fantastic design of the station... the unraveling of the worst "intersection" in the city.  This is going to be a substantial infastructure improvement, and adds significantly more greenspace then I originally thought.

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As part of this project, the old bus loop will be torn up and the area will be landscaped. There will be a new bus stop area on the north side next to the rail and adjacent to the Case buildings. This will be a dramatic improvement both aesthetically and functionally.

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^The worst, and the ugliest.  All one sees is concrete, and all one feels are pot-holes.

 

I'd agree with that.  It currently has a very cold eastern european communist block feel when heading through that area before getting to cedar hill.  The bright colors of the station, the substantial addition of greenspace and trees should really transform the way this whole area feels when traveling through... whether by train, auto, foot, or bike.  This is really exciting.

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So the completion date is 2012.  When is the change from E.120 to Mayfield?  When was the deadline for that, and does anyone think the RTA will have any trouble handling both? 

 

 

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So the completion date is 2012.  When is the change from E.120 to Mayfield?  When was the deadline for that, and does anyone think the RTA will have any trouble handling both? 

 

 

 

Wouldn't asking that in the e 120 rapid thread be helpful??

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There is a chance that the construction timeline could be moved up by 6-12 months depending on the stimulus package.

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On Topic Nazi ( :-D),

 

A thorough look at my post reveals that part of my question asks if fellow UOers think the RTA can get both projects efficiently done at the same time.  I suppose this could be asked in the GCRTA threat, the Mayfield-120 thread, or this thread. 

 

So, if you will, allow me to clean it up. Does anyone think that the progress of the Cedar Hill Station will be adversely affected by the development of the Mayfield Station.  Thanks!!!

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I like what RTA, University Circle, and the City have come up with here.  I am curious about a couple of things.  First, this tangle of streets, transit stations, the BioEnterprise Building, and the railroad run right through the middle of the underlying asset that makes University Circle so great - the park!  This whole mess goes right over the culverted Doan Brook.  It feels like the southern boundary of the park lies at Carnegie.  But jump to the other side of the railroad tracks (which have been there as long as the park) and Ambler Park runs all the way to the Shaker Lakes through a deep and surprisingly scenic valley where one can actually see the Doan Brook, a forest, deer, an ugly dam, old stone quarries, old stone formations, and even a waterfall.  This is true greenspace, albeit somehow nearly forgotten and desolate.  Cleveland owns Ambler Park but much of it is in Cleveland Heights & Shaker Heights.  Access to the park is very poor at best.  Now would be a great time for University Circle to consider the extension of the multipurpose path that ends at Carnegie.  Since park paths are out of the scope of what RTA does, UCI could provide funds for a direct crossing for walkers/joggers/bikers and provide a nice pathway along MLK and under the RR bridges to reunite these two sections of park.  There should be a continuous path from the Shaker Lakes to Lake Erie.  Even though the parks have been there since the late 1800s, somehow we've never found a way to connect these huge greenspaces separated by a mere 300 yards.  Now IS the time to do it.  RTA's slides don't address this linkage at all, but it could be accommodated. 

 

Second, any thoughts on how RTA will lessen the "get me out of here" feeling that comes along with walking underneath dirty old railroad bridges?  Painting a mural on the wall is just not enough.  They better have a lot of bright lights, not those dingy orange tinted things, and they better be prepared to clean the sidewalks sometimes.  RTA's track record is bad: walking under the tracks adjacent to the Euclid/E. 120th Station in the middle of the day is disgusting and somewhat scary, and in its' current state this one at Cedar is pretty bad too.  Hopefully, there will be quality under-bridge pedestrian treatments used here that can be used for the above mentioned underpass to connect the parks at MLK just to the south of the Cedar Station.

 

Last, what are the plans for the old transit loop, labeled on slide 11 of the RTA presentation as "open space"?  It isn't very accessible and will lie sandwiched between wide streets and the RR tracks.

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Pete,

 

Everything that you talk about is currently being worked on. How's that for an answer? I can elaborate later, but I need to go and do the dishes.

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The plan doesn't do much for me. I much preferred the prior concept for the area which proposed replacing the existing bus station with a linear facility topped by a larged, mixed-use building.

 

I like the simplification of the streets in the new plan, but I don't like placing the bus station that much farther away from the rail station or that anyone living or working on the south side of Cedar has to walk across a very wide street at street level.

 

If the area had more street presence, with shops and cafes and windows lining the sidewalks of these streets, then it might not be so bad. But there are too many blank walls, parking areas and other anti-pedestrian features to the landscape which make the increased requirement of walking a very unpleasant prospect.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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^I hear ya, but I've come around.  I too liked the old scheme showing the large mix-used building, but that was pretty much a pipe dream, even pre-economic meltdown.  If there is ever demand for such a building, I don't see why it couldn't be added down the line with this plan.

 

The loss of the southern entry to the platform does strike me as a little strange though.  With POP, there's no down side to multiple entries, and while I'm not so worried about people who live and work south of Cedar (this doesn't add too much to their walk), removing the southern entry does significantly change the connection between rapids and East-bound Cedar buses.  The relocated bus terminal also makes for uncomfortable connections when the weather stinks.

 

To me, though, the awesome architecture, removal of the eyesore bus area there now, improvement to the pedestrian landscape along the north side of Cedar and street plan changes outweigh any flaws and make me very, very excited about this.

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^I hear ya, but I've come around. I too liked the old scheme showing the large mix-used building, but that was pretty much a pipe dream, even pre-economic meltdown. If there is ever demand for such a building, I don't see why it couldn't be added down the line with this plan.

 

The loss of the southern entry to the platform does strike me as a little strange though. With POP, there's no down side to multiple entries, and while I'm not so worried about people who live and work south of Cedar (this doesn't add too much to their walk), removing the southern entry does significantly change the connection between rapids and East-bound Cedar buses. The relocated bus terminal also makes for uncomfortable connections when the weather stinks.

 

To me, though, the awesome architecture, removal of the eyesore bus area there now, improvement to the pedestrian landscape along the north side of Cedar and street plan changes outweigh any flaws and make me very, very excited about this.

 

The mixed-use building was just a drawing that an architectural firm put out there. It was never really in RTA's plans. Additionally, the new covered bus station was not feasible.

 

The southern headhouse was eliminated from the plans because it would have added $4 million more to the project (total project budget is something like $8 or $12 million). An elevator would have been necessary at each side of Cedar to qualify for federal funding. If they had built on the southern side, then the architectural quality on the northern side would have been very poor. A much improved and widened sidewalk will connect the new bus station with the headhouse. They are also planning on improving the lighting and adding public art/murals underneath the bridges.

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^Thanks.  That all makes sense...I had a feeling cost figured into this significantly.  Given all the factors, I really, really like how this is shaping up.

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Even with the costs of just the ADA compliant elevator, I think the South headhouse is necessary.  So now, what are eastbound rail-to-bus transferees going to do heading into Cleve Hts. during rush hour?  And, yes, south siders are going to have to contend with street level Xings over the busy street; I'm sure no overhead walkway (safety among other things) is in the works... Eliminating this connection for cash sounds penny wise and pound foolish.

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Even with the costs of just the ADA compliant elevator, I think the South headhouse is necessary.  So now, what are eastbound rail-to-bus transferees going to do heading into Cleve Hts. during rush hour?  And, yes, south siders are going to have to contend with street level Xings over the busy street; I'm sure no overhead walkway (safety among other things) is in the works... Eliminating this connection for cash sounds penny wise and pound foolish.

 

Agreed.  Lets find the money somewhere.

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Even with the costs of just the ADA compliant elevator, I think the South headhouse is necessary. So now, what are eastbound rail-to-bus transferees going to do heading into Cleve Hts. during rush hour? And, yes, south siders are going to have to contend with street level Xings over the busy street; I'm sure no overhead walkway (safety among other things) is in the works... Eliminating this connection for cash sounds penny wise and pound foolish.

 

The southern headhouse was always an option, but they decided to scrap it after listening to the community stakeholder groups. RTA said that less than 5% (approximately) of the rail users are transfering to busses that go up into the the heights. If they had kept the second headhouse, we'd be hearing how bland the new station will look because RTA needed to sink so much cash into a second elevator.

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Even with the costs of just the ADA compliant elevator, I think the South headhouse is necessary. So now, what are eastbound rail-to-bus transferees going to do heading into Cleve Hts. during rush hour? And, yes, south siders are going to have to contend with street level Xings over the busy street; I'm sure no overhead walkway (safety among other things) is in the works... Eliminating this connection for cash sounds penny wise and pound foolish.

 

Agreed. Lets find the money somewhere.

 

RTA is trying to find more money for this project, but it is not to add another headhouse. They are working with partners to find more money to do the following: jazz up the public plaza that will be built infront of the station entrance on Cedar; add more murals, better lighting and public art under and around the bridge; improve the design for the new greenspace that will replace the old bus loop. 

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^Thanks 3231.  Frankly, there really aren't many folks walking to that station from the south of Cedar other than the residents of the buildings on Ambleside, who have to get to the southern headhouse via Ambleside as it is.  Adding the street crossing means adding the time of the light cycle, but shouldn't be such a big deal otherwise.

 

I've always been a little puzzled though why there isn't more of a Cedar bus to Red line transfer scene though.  The Cedar routes aren't very frequent, so I'm guessing they don't get a whole lot of transit by choice riders.  Or maybe they just take the bus all the way downtown?

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First - housekeeping.  This is my first post, but I have been lurking...  I am an employee at RTA within the engineering division so all of my responses on these threads will be in that light.  This is also to give me some "street cred" so to speak.  JeTDog and I have discussed some upcoming outreach we will be doing and this forum is a good place. 

 

That said - relative to this project I am a part of the RTA team.  We thank your enthusiasm on the progress so far.  It was an interesting year long planning study for us.  KJP's comment on development was inline with our thinking on the initial approach to the project.  Studying the development options was part of the criteria used in selection, but advantages in the preferred scheme outweighed the limited development potential.

 

Regarding the reconfiguration and specifically the north-only entrance, 3231 summarized it very well, especially in regards to cost and the effects on the design of the rest of the project.  We did look at overhead walkways, but the penalty of going further up from being above the roadway and back down were brutal - especially if you want to cross the freight railroads which require a minimum of 23' above the top of rail.  The only other parts I would like to add are:

 

1.  We did a survey of passenger movements around the station.  We like data  :-D.  The decision was not taken lightly; however there were light movements between the south entrance and direct loading at the slip - which are the Cleveland Heights, etc. routes.  Most people exiting that entrance went to the bus area. 

 

2.  Existing conditions have two 4' or so sidewalks with the ever-so-lovely jersey barrier as protection from the cars.  The rest is 6 lanes of auto traffic and the south bus slip (and the eastbound lanes are split by the bridge pier).  Moving all of the bridge abutments - most of which are in the control of the NS / CSX - was not an option.  When we eliminate the south bus slip, we re-rationalize the traffic centered on the piers and can make an approximately 10' wide walk on the north side while maintaining the south walk.  That allows us to construct structure, as permitted by the NS / CSX, to not only protect but make the walk a pleasant experience that will be compliant with ADA requirements.  The existing width is not conductive to any significant improvements.

 

3.  This is one of our largest bus interfaces.  If we were not building a train station with bus loop, we would be building a transit center.  Therefore, we have people who are attempting to leave only the loop.  Trying to go anywhere towards the north (John Hay / CWRU) is not pretty.  Cleaning up the intersection allows for adequate pedestrian cycle times for those who now want to go back south.  Passenger safety after they leave the train / bus is very important to us. 

 

4.  Construction does not preclude putting in a south entrance with a curb side bus stop in the future. 

 

Finally - and in grave danger of being in trouble for talking about Mayfield here - 1) relocating the station entrance was confirmed through extensive public outreach during a TLCI planning study; 2) it is in schematic development; 3) both stations are in our future capital budgets and they are not "shovel ready" for stimulus fund eligibility.  (Fun and useless history: The original plans for the interurban portion of CUT from 1929, which were never realized, had both a Mayfield and Euclid entrance with a long platform between.  And no - that is definitely not in the budget so don't even ask.)

 

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