Jump to content
punch

Cleveland: Transit Ideas for the Future

Recommended Posts

Again to everyone...but probably just to KJP  :-D

 

So, when the silver line is done, and the red line stations are finished, what is next for Cleveland transportation?

 

What do you think will happen, what do you want to happen.

 

I would love to see the waterfront line loop around to CSU and loop in all the new downtown neighborhoods....could it go near Treemont?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the Waterfront Line should be extended along the East and West Lakeshore (in addition to looping around downtown).  There are provisions for these extensions in the Lakefront Plan, but its vague and not strongly stressed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wish that they would send a rail line thru Lakewood.  They have said for a while that trains will abandon that track in a few years.  I highly doubt it would happen, but it is a city built for rail.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, here is what I would do to improve Cleveland transportation after the Silver Line is done and the Red Line stations are all rebuilt...

 

Administrative changes -

 

1. develop a regional land use/transportation plan backed with zoning so that the plan has the force of law;

 

2. get the city of Cleveland and as many suburbs as possible to pass a transit-supportive zoning classification;

 

3. get RTA to create a TOD Department with staffing and resources funded out of RTA's budget, real estate revenues, and external grants;

 

4. get NE Ohio communities to create an infrastructure/brownfields/redevelopment fund, initially financed by cost savings from the sharing of certain municipal services and later augmented by revenues from joint development districts;

 

5. allocate funding (be it public or private) to the newly merged land conservancy districts surrounding Greater Cleveland so they can dramatically expand their land acquisitions, thereby creating a de facto urban growth boundary (and to permit more locally grown foods, but that's another issue).

 

These land use tools (and others I'm surely overlooking) are essential, because no matter what we do to promote smarter transportation investments and smarter growth in Cuyahoga County, their value will be diminished and possibly rendered obsolete one day if we don't pursue them in the context of a broader, regional strategy that reins in sprawl. With these tools in place, the next steps should be (although some can and probably should be pursued now):

 

Near-term projects:

 

1. create signal prioritization for buses on city streets (and for the Rapids where they run in the middle of boulevards);

 

2. consolidate parking lots at and near Rapid stations and park-n-rides into structured decks. Rezone land within a half-mile with TOD zoning and redevelop accordingly;

 

3. create more pleasant transit waiting areas, especially at key transit stops and intersections where multiple transit routes converge (waiting areas should have real-time arrival information for the next bus or train, news/weather/sports ticker, etc). And, at the busier transit locations, have a "Bus Stop Shop" that RTA can lease out to private operators to sell coffee, soft drinks, bottled water, snacks, transit passes, newspapers, magazines, ATMs, package/mail drops and, of course, offer WiFi.

 

4. bring MetroCars or some other rental car by-the-hour service to several locations throughout Greater Cleveland (and more bicycle rentals, too!);

 

5. create more dedicated bike lanes on city streets (for the cost of new striping and signage!) and, where possible, bike-only rights of way (eg: Lakefront Bikeway, Canal Corridor Bikeway, etc.).

 

Long-term projects (aside from those already in serious planning stages):

 

1. build the Lakefront Bypass for freight train traffic (see EcoCity Cleveland's website, under the Blue Project section). This will avail four, freight-free railroad rights of way out of downtown for diesel-powered light-rail transit service and restrict local freight access to nighttime hours. The four routes are downtown to: Lorain, Hopkins Airport, Aurora, and Euclid. Designate and develop TOD sites;

 

2. extend the Waterfront Line as a downtown loop (including a fare-free, loop-only train)and restructure the origins or destinations of existing rapid services within the existing system;

 

3. build "Heritage Trolley" from Ohio City to Chinatown using lower level of Detroit-Superior Veterans Memorial Bridge;

 

4. create circumferential busway in the centers of I-480/I-271 with rapid transit-style station at key crossroads that host bus routes but do not have freeway interchanges;

 

5. build busway from intersection of Ridge/Denison to downtown with new bus route from downtown to Parmatown via Ridge Road. Designate Ridge Road as TOD corridor with appropriate rezoning and redevelop accordingly;

 

6. build the Ohio Hub system while we're at it!

 

So many more projects, so little time....

 

KJP

  • Thanks 1

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LRT on Clifton, from West Boulevard all the way through Lakewood! :-D But that would make for an incredibly expensive project.

 

Using the existing N&S line would be more feasible, but it's mostly only one track through Lakewood.  An extra track would have to be built in order to make it into a fully functional transit line.  Not to mention the neighborhoods along the ralroad aren't as dense as the Edgewater and Gold Coast areas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even without the double track, there are two 3-mile-long passing sidings, one from Wagar Road to Dover Center, and another siding from SR83 to Lake Breeze Road(I think?), that will permit 30-minute headways between trains. Coming in from Lorain, these trains could either make a "left-turn" near the West Boulevard Rapid station on a new connecting track to reach the NS mainline to a downtown lakefront station (will require the Lakefront Bypass for freight).

 

Or, depending on the commuter rail vehicle chose, they could switch over to the Red Line at West 90th (where the Red Line goes over an abandoned railroad siding) and go into Tower City. They might even continue to University Circle, since a number of University Hospital employees live in the West Shore communities. Even if the commuter trains didn't use the Red Line, passengers would be able to transfer at one of three locations: West Boulevard Rapid, Euclid Busway at East 55th, and Red Line at East 79th. Each of those station would need rebuilt neighborhoods around them to make transferring passengers feel comfortable in those environments.

 

KJP


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i'm not one for logistics, i'd like to see some of the old street car lines re-established. Number one priority for me would be cliffton. I believe magyar has a map of the old lines (or maybe KJP you do too)? (there was the one map in the other thread, but i couldn't tell if it was proposed or existing)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have some questions about the red and silver line. Are both of those trains or are they buses? I know the red line just celebrated its 50th, but how old is the silver line? Which areas of Cleveland do they service? Do they have a lot of passengers? Sorry, I am just very uneducated about the Cleveland's public transportation options. Any info would be great!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Red Line is rail line, with trains powered from overhead electric wires, and running every 15 minutes from Hopkins International Airport to East Cleveland via Tower City Center in downtown. The Silver Line will be a busway. The Silver Line just had its groundbreaking last fall, with construction taking about 2 years. It will be dedicated bus-only lanes down Euclid Avenue (with rapid transit-style stations), from Public Square to East Cleveland via the Midtown Corridor and the University Circle. Cost is $168 million to $200 million (depending on what  "fringe costs" one wants to include in that figure) and will rebuild Euclid Avenue from the sewers on up.

 

KJP


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My take on transit if I were the King of Greater Cleveland:

 

- the Waterfront Line should be extended along the east lakefront, initially, at least to the Bratenhal border, preferably to Collinwood or Euclid Square Mall.  While we're not often farsighted transit wise, the our politicos/planners inadvertently created, with the WFL, the foundations for a complete radial commuter rapid transit line with high-speed, grade separated entry to our main transit hub at Public Square (which despite a possible North Coast intercity train station, will always be the crossroads/hub of Cleveland transit).  This extension should, as stated by some planners, be directly tied in to TOD high-density/high-rise residential building to create a Chicago-style Gold Coast along our largely abandoned industrial lakefront.  The handsome Quay 55 condo adaptive reuse at the 55th Street marina should be just the beginning.  As opposed to KJP's proposal, I would extend the fully electric Rapid rather than use diesel cars so trains may make the tight turns and close-spaced stops close in, utilize the elevated section over Front St. & the NS tracks as well as be able to make the steep incline and enter the Tower City rail hub -- even though diesel-electric technology is much less intrusive these days, I sill don't favor regular diesel car use inside an underground, enclosed station like Tower City.

 

- I agree w/ KJP's plans to reroute trains off of the lakeshore.  Even if transit were not a goal for the lakeshore, we should be about freeing this valuable land from the noisy, ground-rattling freight trains which will necessarily continue to depress shore land values.

 

- I am staunchly opposed to completing a Waterfront Line loop like the proposal following the opening of the WFL in the late 90s.  I am not in favor of converting portions of our high-speed Rapid system into a slow moving, street clogging, and snaking streetcar system.  If we want to build a separate Heritage-type streetcar system perhaps to Ohio City or the new, thriving Stonebridge apt/retail/office complex on the old Superior viaduct and using the Detroit-Superior Bridge subway, that's fine; just don't water down (by slowing down) the current Rapid system.  One thing, I think, that makes our system attractive to the relatively small ridership that uses it, is its high speed; it can compete successfully with cars in the city and some close-in suburbs.  We’re too small a metropolis and of too light density for slow moving trains to be able to successfully compete with autos.

 

Also, as a regular Shaker/Blue-Green Rapid rider, I can promise you that looping Waterfront cars back into the system at around E. 30th street would be an operational nightmare causing routine monumental backups.  I can see legions of Blue-Green commuters in a hurry to get downtown or the airport glumly staring at tunnel walls while we wait for the log jam of trains ahead to "clear."  Hell, it's enough of a headache dealing with non-revenue cars shuttling to and from the E. 55 Street main rail yard/shop area around rush periods.  The more you have frustrated commuters on stuck and slow Blue/Green, as well as on East Side Red Line trains, too, for that matter, the more those people will turn or return to the mighty automobile for convenient travel.

 

What's more, I see little utility in such a loop other than its, perhaps, looking attractive to some on a map.  If I'm standing on Public Sq., why should I go inside Tower City and catch a slow, roundabout Rapid to, say, CSU, when a #6 bus or Loop bus up Euclid would get me there quicker – probably significantly so?  Even those coming in on the Red Line from the West Side would be ill served by making such a CSU transfer to a new loop WFL when the buses present will do.

 

Finally, you can bet the powerful auto lobby would convince ODOT/the County to block any attempt to electronically trip traffic lights to favor transit cars over the auto traffic on the busy auto arteries the streetcar/rapid would cross.  While it's rare for me to actually oppose a rail project in this town, my hope is that this particular WFL Loop (extension) proposal die a peaceful death....

 

- Establish a commuter corridor over West NS line through Lakewood.  While the route over the lakefront NS line into a new North Coast station would be attractive near W. 100 street, I could see a connection over the Red Line into Tower City, as well, but using some kind of diesel-to-electric hybrid vehicles although I realize, for weight problems such vehicles cause, this may not be feasible.  Truth be told, the Edgewater-Lakewood-to-downtown-Rocky River portion of this corridor has such extreme high population density (Chicago-type density, one of the highest in the entire state), a full high-platform, high-frequency Red Line extension would actually do pretty well here.  I think a look at Chicago's busy Red Line "L" north from about Wilson Station to Howard, hugging the Lake Michigan shoreline, could be a blueprint to how such a line could fare here.

 

-- Continue to push for establishing commuter train service over the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Rail Line once it's extended to near the base of Tower City next to the towpath.  Akron Metro already apparently owns much of the line and service south of Akron to Canton, where CVSL cars now operate (I understand), so this is not a far-fetched idea.

 

-- Continue to press for commuter train service over the old Erie/North Randall lightly used tracks to Aurora.

 

-- I can see establishing some kind of West Lake shore Waterfront Line extension, but it's not a priority to me.  For one thing, the rundown industrial portion of the West lakeshore is much shorter than the eastern portion and, hence, in much less need of upgrading -- it's only a few miles jaunt and you're at Edgewater Park with its beautiful mansions at the base of the beautiful Lakewood Gold Coast and shore homes extending to beyond Bay Village.  Not only that, there exist a couple Red Line stations, already that roughly serve a portion of the Edgewater/Lakewood area, and extended NS commuter service, as proposed above, would serve the rest.  A western shoreline Rapid could be attractive if it used the Det-Sup subway, but I’d only favor a line under Superior all the way to Public Sq.

 

-- Finally, while I'm open to using the "light rail" diesel car concept on some lines (but not on the above-noted WFL-lakeshore extension), I'd much prefer the traditional push-pull bi-level diesel trains being used in most modern commuter train cities.  These offer the kind of maximum state-of-the-art comfort (including clean restrooms) and ride that a highly discerning suburban audience would demand.  Plus, you don't have to limit their use to only non-freight rail service as you do with diesel light rail -- which is what the $ Billion Philly area River Line has to do.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I agree with many of your comments, I consider it a shame that the CSX rail line from the downtown lakefront east to Collinwood has seen its rail traffic drop from 40-50 a day to, at most, 3 daily (and two of them are nighttime Amtrak trains). This rail line is built and maintained to 79 mph standards. The ease of adding a commuter service to this route would be obscenely easy and inexpensive.

 

The real trick of this route is to get through CSX's Collinwood Yard, where its intermodal business is booming. CSX does maintain mainline tracks for nonstop trains through the yard, which Amtrak uses. If the commuter service could use one of those as a dedicated track, then they could at least get to Euclid, where I think suburban folks would rather park their cars than in Collinwood. Beyond Euclid, things get more complicated, since the CSX line narrows to only two main tracks and freight traffic gets heavy again, at least 50 trains daily. A passenger-only track would have to built/rebuilt. Fortunately, when this route was New York Central's, it was four tracks wide, so there is right of way to add the passenger-only track, costing perhaps a shade over $1 million per mile.

 

You know your way around Cleveland's rail scene (do I know you?), but remember that some commuter rail services can be very similar to light rail, with closely spaced stations in urban areas and high-speed running in open country. You mentioned the New Jersey River Line, but I'm partial to Ottawa's O-Train (http://www.octranspo.com/train_menue.htm). It rides a lot more smoothly than the River Line's trains do, plus is more spacious and comfortable.

 

I don't have a problem with a Rapid becoming a streetcar downtown. It hasn't hurt ridership in Portland, San Diego, Baltimore or other cities that are Cleveland's size. My favored routing for a downtown loop is to turn south on a pedestrian-only East 17th Street, extended to Carnegie (with East 18th made into a four-lane roadway from the Lakefront Boulevard to the Inner Belt). Depending on the final form of the Inner Belt/Central Interchange, I'd have the downtown loop turn southeast from Carnegie/East 17th on a new boulevard and descend into a subway about a half-mile before joining the existing Rapid near where East 9th/Ontario/Broadway/Orange all come together.

 

As for the Rapids coming out of the Central Rail Facility and clogging the line to Tower City (especially during rush hours), I've often wondered why RTA never tripled-track that segment. There is more than enough track space (even the old Erie RR bridge over NS/ex-NKP could be used).

 

And, as for signal prioritization for buses on key routes, look for that on the 326 Route in the near future. One of things that killed the streetcars is that they got mired in car traffic. This turns the tables and I suspect the highway lobby is unaware of it. Add these one insignificant route at a time until all the key routes have been upgraded, and the highway lobby wonders how it all sneaked up on them.

 

That's enough musing for now. It's late....

 

KJP


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It must be a cold day in hell

 

KJP


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow!  This is like a freakin candy store for me!  I love this type of transit imagineering!  Now, I'm going to need everyone to submit visuals with their proposals...I need maps!

 

I'll just briefly comment on a few things that have already been said...namely, the short list of items that the RTA should be attending to. 

 

First off, shouldn't the RTA and the City and the County already have transit oriented development offices/programs?  If we've justified spending around $200 million on the Silver Line alone and are throwing millions at other projects like moving or updating Red Line stations, don't you think that the TOD office should accompany this money? (rhetorical...I know you all agree)  Take Seattle for example...they've passed two major rail initiatives that are currently in various stages of planning and development.  They have a fabulous website dedicated to "station area planning"  (Check it out at http://www.ci.seattle.wa.us/transportation/ppmp_sap_home.htm) and the public entities in the region may be able to capture a great deal of the land value growth around the major infrastructure projects that they are executing.  Everyone's talking about it, from non profits like Eco City Cleveland to the RTA to private developers to suburbs like Shaker Heights.  It just makes so much sense!

 

Next, the Waterfront Line loop through Downtown does have its allure, but I'd only be 100% behind it if it had the potential to foster future rail growth by possibly creating a new southerly route down Broadway or some such alignment.  I think we could do better to promote our loop buses...and yes, they should be free!  Until these have reached some measure of critical mass, I don't think we can justify a loop extension of the Waterfront Line simply for the purpose of connecting back to the existing lines as the head east. 

 

I would, however, get behind the extension of eastern and western lakefront lines, or lines down major avenues like Detroit or Lakeside as they head along the Lakefront that will be redeveloped over the decades to come.  If we extend them as land is acquired for development, we can fund them with revenues from these developments.  I believe very strongly in this as a necessary component of the Lakefront plan.

 

I am also strongly in support of several alignments of new streetcar lines, similar to those created in Portland, Oregon.  Portland's new "old" streetcar line serves a smaller ridership base than its light rail, but has served as a development incentive and instigator along several segments of its route.  It was anchored by major population and retail hubs and institutions upon construction, but has seen major growth along its route and continues to extend further into underdeveloped areas.  I see this serving routes such as the Superior/St. Clair Avenue growth corridors heading east through CSU and into Midtown and west across the Detroit-Superior Bridge to serve West 25th and Detroit Avenue.  It could split off at West 25th, with one line continuing west into Detroit Shoreway, eventually connecting with the Red Line and with future Lakefront light rail extensions (or taking their place) and proceeding into Lakewood.  The West 25th Street line could connect with Clark Avenue via a diversion through Tremont.  The fact that a critical mass of residents probably doesn't exist at present along the line (the two Tremont buses were nearly empty every time I took them from Tremont to W. 25th or Downtown) could hinder the proposal, but current works-in-progress like housing along West 25th could push it at least that far for now, leaving room for growth at later dates.

 

This is all very exciting, whether or not anyone with money or political sway is behind these ideas.  It takes dreamers with confidence to get transit projects like these moving...so to speak.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I was tinkering with the following map, I began to wonder what the possibilities are for one or all of the East Side rapid lines to be realigned between Tower City and East 55th.  We have three light rail lines that reach Downtown from the East Side alone and only one stop between  Public Square and E. 55th and it's in a totally worthless spot...when we're considering the realignment, reconstruction of the Inner Belt bridge, can we PLEASE explore the option of realigning at least one of the lines up through the existing rail yard near the central post office and Tri-C Metro (the area highlighted in minty blue)...down Broadway or Woodland or something where there are actually PEOPLE and potential redevelopment sites??? Additionally, if we do end up bumping the bridge south a little bit, this realignment could serve any new development that opens up.

 

Anyone think this is at all possible???

 

Please note that the following map does not contain all stations on the rail lines or BRT and simply suggests ideas for potential route additions/changes.  I'm no expert...just a dreamer!

 

(sorry if it's hard to read...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cool pic, MGD.  Imagineering is fun. :)

 

Here's a couple of little 5-minute drawings I did, of the light-rail-on-Clifton idea.  It would probably do better as a streetcar line, though.

 

I'll probably do a more detailed drawing later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^^ it would make more sense to put a rail line going the rail line just south of what you want on clifton. The tracks are going to be soon abandoned, you get half the work that essentialy needs to be done allready, and it would be much better use instead of them doing some lame rail to trails crap that I just sense will happen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why would NS abandon that track when freight traffic on it has increased from less than one train a day three years ago, to more than 10 per day today?

 

KJP


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's my map. Most of this is based on what I posted before, except a crazy idea I've had to replace I-71 between West 150th and West 25th with a boulevard, a relocated Red Line, and high-density mixed uses. I would send I-71 north to I-90, since a lot of traffic leaves the interstate at West 150th and West 130th/Bellaire, with lighter traffic northeast of there. A 40-mph boulevard would remain, as would much commuter traffic, I presume. The trucks would be directed north to I-90, however.

 

KJP

__________________

 

cleveland%20ideas2.gif

 

 


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It'll be a cold day in hell when Columbus gets one of our Rapid lines!

 

KJP


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An extention of the Red Line on the East Side especially, and even the West Side, would be the single best thing for the Rapid system today.  If that Red Line went out to Mentor, you'd double the ridership.  Not too many people want to take the 28X bus down to Windermere, its current terminus.

 

But this would require coopration by each municipality along the way.  This is why it will never happen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't agree. Let me explain why. When RTA was proposing extending the Red Line into Berea, residents learned that one of the reasons why was economic development. So residents went to look at Rapid stations and areas that surrounded. Understandably, they didn't like what they saw.

 

Developers build model homes in new developments to visually demonstrate their vision of what they are selling. What is transit's "model home"? In Cleveland, we do have Shaker Heights or Shaker Square. But both are so old that prospective "buyers" (ie: transit-curious communities) disregard them as a product of another era. They want a contemporary model, and would have to go to another city to view it (Portland, Denver, Dallas, St. Louis, etc). I have heard them ask: "Would that really work in Cleveland?"

 

We need to redevelop around the existing Red Line stations, and those along the Shaker Lines, to provide some "model homes" to sell a community vision for transit-oriented development. That's starting to happen, but not yet in a meaningful way to provide a compelling example or two. We have some model homes where the foundations are built, some landscaping has been installed, but not enough to convey the vision and sell the product.

 

Building TOD-style real estate developments at Rapid stations are the single-most important things we can do for the Rapid system right now. Let's get the administrative, planning, zoning and incentive tools in place to make this happen.

 

KJP


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^i agree, tod's for the rapid are the big big thing for right now.

 

i see expanding the waterfront line east at least to freakin quay55. imo this ties in directly with the innerbelt/shoreway project.

 

a western line to edgewater/clifton is another gimme. this one should be a big part of the shoreway calming/boulevard project. but its not. in fact, if anything i've heard they want to send brt that way. gear up for that battle. rail to the beach rules!

 

two commuter rail lines:

 

the lorain to aurora route is a lock given the rail is there waiting. too bad dennis the menace kucinich has killed it for now, the short-sighted twit.

 

the other line is actually slowly being positioned to take shape via the backdoor and that is the canton-akron-cleveland line. it will stop at the akron canton airport too, can you believe it, three area airports to chose from via direct rail services? that is outstanding and enticing connectivity! akron metro is posturing, angling and shaping the cvsr into this kind of service sloooowly....but surely. this will need a regional push, can it happen?

 

finally, i am a big proponent of bringing the waterfront line "back home" thru downtown in a loop. i see massive ridership from new csu & midtown and circle business/residential development in the near and far future. however, i disagree about running it on surface streets --- too many busy thru streets to cross and don't forget the 3/4 of the year that is winter. so it needs to run under the street off the lakefront and south until it gets back around to tc. of course you would have a station that pops you right up to the euclid silver line bus stop too. heck why not just connect with the other rapid lines and run it right down broadway? can the south of town get some transit love? yeah that one is prob just a pipe dream, but being foresighted and actually driving new development is not rta's forte. hells bells uncle sam is digging tunnels in seattle as we speak---money is there so it could be done.

 

running a subway under the bridge again and into lakewood, or at least to the w117th border, is another big dream. yaaaggh.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love what I'm hearing.  The commuter rail to Akron/Canton is dynamite...and I fly into the airport there just as often as Cleveland because the price is often better.  This type of thing would help both Cleveland and Canton/Akron from a business marketing standpoint...really connecting the region.

 

TOD is the most practical and necessary step right now, I'm in full agreement on that.  But I'm most psyched about the potential to tie rail lines into the Shoreway project, east and west.  And if not during the initial construction phases, at least planning for the addition of rail later, once people have started to move in.  Though I believe building it first could drive the type of development we'd all like to see along the new Lakefront neighborhoods.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unfortunately, the mayor of Silver Lake has killed chances of commuter rail between Cleveland, Akron and Canton anytime soon. Besides, it would be a very expensive project, especially since a third main track would have to be built from Hudson to Cleveland (25 miles) alongside a very busy freight railroad. Akron Metro is pursuing it smartly -- one segment at a time to guard against sticker shock. Initially, rail service from Akron to downtown Cleveland may start with the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad getting into Tower City. They've acquired two more self-propelled Rail Diesel Cars like the one shown below and will rehab them for future shuttle service between Tower City and Independence.

 

KJP

 

CVSR%20RDC-small.jpg

 


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd be happy with anything that puts another couple passenger cars on some tracks!

 

And who's this mayor of Silver Lake???  We can get rid of him/her, right?

 

If this was considered a rail link to better the airline industry, wouldn't the Fed get behind it more than an average mass transit project?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The sad thing is, Kucinich supports commuter rail "just not on that route" he once said, referring to the Cleveland to Lorain route, via Lakewood. Problem is, he doesn't realize he's blocking commuter rail region-wide, since that's the least costly route to implement and offers the highest ridership potential.

 

Silver Lake's Mendenhall is just a plain ol' egomaniacal idiot. Here's what I said about Mendenhall a few years ago for a client of mine, in a press release available at EcoCity's website.

 

KJP

_________________

 

http://www.ecocitycleveland.org/transportation/rail/nocommuter.html

 

Cleveland-Akron-Canton commuter rail is dropped without public notice and despite rail’s popularity

 

The following statement is from the Ohio Association of Railroad Passengers (4/2/02). This is another indication that hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent to promote more driving in the Akron-Cleveland-Canton corridor, while little is spent on transportation alternatives.

 

In a move that may verify why the public distrusts government, the policy committee of the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS) on March 27 voted in secret to drop a proposed Cleveland-Akron-Canton (CAC) commuter rail project from further consideration. The AMATS committee is comprised of elected officials from Portage and Summit counties. Its vote could be accepted or rejected by the full AMATS Board in May.

 

The committee’s vote compromised the public’s trust for a number of reasons. The vote was made:

 

  • Absent any public notice that a vote was going to be held, as this was supposed to be an information-only meeting on the progress of the CAC study;

 

  • At the behest of committee chair Warner Mendenhall, mayor of Silver Lake, a small village which is the only pocket of commuter rail opposition along the entire route;

  • Without allowing comments by commuter rail-supportive committee members (including Hudson and Cuyahoga Falls officials) before the vote was cast;

  • Without 13 of 42 committee members in attendance; many of those present were Portage County officials who were angry that a CAC route option via Kent was eliminated from further consideration due to low ridership and high costs;

  • Before committee members saw a full CAC technical study report by AMATS staff (because the report won’t be finished until later this month);

 

  • Without consideration of extreme opposition to the widening of I-77 in Slavic Village in Cleveland and strong, region-wide public support for commuter rail voiced at multiple public hearings this past winter;

 

  • In conflict with the AMATS 2025 transportation plan, which includes commuter rail via Hudson and eliminates the Kent line from consideration. This plan must be adopted by AMATS in May or the region will risk more than $1 billion in federal transportation funds.

 

"This was an ambush, plain and simple," said OARP Vice President Ken Prendergast. "For the most part, government officials are honest people. But this kind of behavior causes citizens to forget the good things they do. It’s ridiculous that three metro areas having more than 3 million people must be held hostage by a misinformed village and some sour grapes that aren’t even part of the CAC Corridor."

 

In January 2002, over 200 people attended a series of public meetings and an additional 50 written comments were received, a strong majority of which supported the development of commuter rail. Supporting commuter rail were: the Greater Cleveland Growth Association, the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Canton Chamber of Commerce, the cities of Akron, Tallmadge, Hudson and Cuyahoga Falls, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Ohio Rail Development Commission, Amtrak, Summit County Port Authority, the Summit County Board of MRDD and the Portage Trails Group of the Sierra Club.

 

Also, extreme opposition was voiced against the widening of I-77 in the Slavic Village area of Cleveland. Since that time, the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County have spoken out against the widening. ODOT District 12 has publicly stated it will not widen I-77 in that area and considers that section of I-77 totally built out.

 

Prendergast added that Mayor Mendenhall has spread falsehoods about the rail project. He and the people of his village are fearful that commuter trains will open the door to freight traffic on the track which parallels noisy State Route 8. Freight trains no longer use this track, from Cuyahoga Falls to Hudson via Silver Lake. It was bought by the public sector to preserve it for future commuter rail use.

 

After three years of study, a recommendation is coming into focus that proposes spending $821 million on our region’s transportation infrastructure over the next 25 years. The proposal includes spending $171 million on the development of commuter rail, and $629 million on widening and improving the CAC Corridor’s highways.

 

"If we don’t build commuter rail, then we’ll have to spend even more taxpayers’ dollars to acquire land, demolish homes and add more expensive lanes to some highways just to handle the rush-hour traffic," Prendergast added. "This region can’t afford to do that, not when there’s an alternative out there that can save the taxpayers’ money, save our communities, protect the environment and improve mobility choices."

 

"OARP strongly recommends that the AMATS Policy Committee reconsider this action at its May 22 meeting," he concluded.

 

OARP is a nonprofit, educational organization founded in 1973 to advocate for service and safety improvements to intercity passenger rail and urban transit services. For more information, call 216-986-6064.


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

KJP (and others, a couple random thoughts to your statements)

 

- KJP (I believe) reported that the new light-rail diesel "River Line" in South Jersey (Camden-to-Trenton, opposite Philly) cost 1$ Billion and is carrying around 6.000 per day – actually, less than that.  It's kind of amusing that Cleveland pols feel that paying less than half of that for a wider ranging, potentially wider impact (1st) commuter rail line (connecting Cleveland, Akron & Canton – 60 miles) is too expensive.

 

- about converting the Rapid to a streetcar downtown, your examples have some flaws. 

First, Portland is a smaller market than Cleveland. 

Second, the streetcar/downtown portion of Baltimore's Central Light Rail line has been a disaster of which officials are looking to correct by building a parallel subway to remove the street trackage -- Baltimore is goofy, they spent nearly a $1Billion to build a high-tech, computer controlled fully (downtown) heavy-rail Metro -- and then extended it 2 miles to Johns Hopkins Hospital complex.  Meanwhile, the cheapened out and built this awful surface downtown light rail (that doesn't even have a transfer point with the Metro nor does it have transfer/fare privileges.  Putting Light Rail in the middle of Howard Street wrecked that Colonial street, turning it into a rail yard that both people and retailers avoid like the plague.  The traffic lights aren't tripped for rail cars, so they move through downtown like molasses (once, after leaving an Orioles game at Camden Yards w/ some guys headed for our car at a Holiday Inn, I literally OUT WALKED a train for 3 blocks as it was constantly caught at traffic lights.

 

And Dallas, which was forced to go on the cheap in building its light rail, is now strongly considering burying the streetcar version the voters were too cheap to build in the 1st place now that they have fallen in love with their widely expanding light rail/diesel commuter rail network. 

 

Third -- Unlike these mostly Sunbelt (or far western) towns you site, they are all NEW transit towns.  We here in Cleveland are a more discerning public having had rapid transit for over 80-90 years.  We’re Midwesterners and tend to be naturally skeptical; harder to convince (just look at the nonchalant stance riders in jam-packed Chicago are taking toward their broke, crumbling “L” these days (more on that on a later post).  People here won't buy converting their fast Rapid to a bunch of slow moving streetcars -- we're not of the "... aw shucks, ain't that neat" mentality toward rapid transit like the other places that have never had it you name...

 

... along those lines, you DIDN'T MENTION a couple other “similar” (to Cleve) cities, like –

 

Pittsburgh (smaller than Cleveland) which buried it's failing old street car system for a full subway downtown, and now they're poised to spend $300+ millions to tunnel under the (Ohio?) river to connect the stadium complex and set the stage for a 20-mile extension to their huge new-ish airport.  Obviously, streetcars weren't good enough for them.

 

And what about ST LOUIS – another Midwestern/similar place whose central city is also smaller than Cleveland... St. Louis recently (10 years or so ago) built a high-platform light rail system that's fully in a tunnel/subway downtown,... and its rapidly expanding, ta boot.  No streetcars for THEM.

 

... I tend to think we all (myself included) often fall into the "... hey, it's Cleveland, it may happen elsewhere but never happen here..." mentality.  Without a long history discussion, we were the top dog city in the 1920s; growing, expanding, exciting!... all cities looked to us for leadership; for our efficient government (boy, that seems funny now, doesn’t it?); our beautiful and successful (Daniel Burnham designed) 1902 Group Plan of muni buildings (that no city save D.C. duplicated); and our amazing, pioneering air-rights Terminal Tower/Union Station rail terminal skyscraper.  Sure, the Depression hurt us, but that was global; not Cleveland specific.  But Albert Porter's late-50s destruction of the subway/downtown Cleveland has damaged our collective psyches beyond imagination (we also, during the Porter era, defeated a luxury, high-rise, 1,000-room hotel on the Mall).  After these defeats, the Plain Dealer going into the new decade (the 1960s) commented in its editorial: We (Cleveland) seem incapable of accepting success in large doses... And that legacy lives on (look at the now failing Flats, the total destruction of the red-hot promising Indians by a new cheapskate owner, and RTA being stifled by an incompetent, subtly rail transit-hating GM (Joe Calabrese) after the initial momentum of the Waterfront Line, etc)...

 

BOTTOM LINE -- in OUR environment of thumbing our noses at transit, to begin w/, I would much rather focus our efforts on a REAL city building, convenience sustaining REAL Rapid extension other than a snaky, out-of-the way, surface/traffic hogging/clogging non-convenience producing line like the proposed Waterfront Line "Loop."  Besides, we're already dumping $300 Million (I'm sure that'll be the figure when it's all said and done) on a transit project I'm very less than thrilled with: ECP/BRT.  This project (ECP) will at the very least cover the territory the streetcar "Loop" would more efficiently. 

 

With our town's limited tolerance (for rail) and collective limited attention span, WHY NOT focus on a REAL city building extension... and for this reason, I find no more important project than extending the (already there) Waterfront Line along the East lakefront...

 

I'm surprised, KJP, you're not dead behind this extension with your extreme knowledge (and I'm very serious about this and not blowing smoke up your you-know-what, ... I deeply respect your hard work and knowledge of local/regional transit).  I don't see why you would propose diesel light rail in this potentially high-density, high-profile territory when a full electric light rail line terminates right at the edge of this territory -- and one with high-speed access to our transit hub on Public Square...  We need our strongest voices, like yours, on board for key projects such as these and we need not spin our wheels on projects that merely look nice but don't do much for our city like the WFL "loop" imho...

 

... OK, off the soap box, for now; sorry for getting long winded, but the fingers wouldn't stop... (which is why they hurt, now -- good night, will check in, tomorrow)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know if a lot of that "anti-streetcar" rant was directed at me, but either way, I'm going to stand my ground!  And clarify things a bit from my end...

 

And let me start by saying that I'm thrilled at the opportunity to have this discussion with people who care about our city...regardless of what we agree and disagree on...we're putting it on the table and that's an important step.  Big ups to us!

 

Ok, the "streetcar" that I spoke of would not be a conversion as you suggested Clvlndr.  This would be an entirely new segment with connections (transfers) to the existing lines, but would not in any way replace them.  There are several reasons why I feel that streetcars would be feasible and preferrable in parts of Downtown Cleveland and travelling out into the former streetcar built neighborhoods of Ohio City and Detroit Shoreway.  First of all, the cost is far less.  Streetcars can share right-of-ways with automobiles and preclude the cost of purchasing land for construction and operation.  Second, they are more flexible in their capacity and capacity building.  We're not expecting to pack these things like the old days, but we could see some major transit use and TOD increases along their lines...namely on the eastern end of Downtown and out into Detroit Shoreway and south into Clark and Tremont. 

 

I cite the Portland model because they have successfully built both high-capacity light rail (MAX) and lower-capacity streetcars through their center city.  Also, the City of Portland's population recently surpassed Cleveland in the 2000 census, growing to nearly 530,000.  Either way, the regions are very similar in size.  The major difference is that the Center City Portland area contains well over 20,000 residents, in addition to businesses and institutions.  I believe that the investments in light rail and streetcar lines have driven this growth since the 1980s and it will continue to grow as the public commitment to these projects entices private development. 

 

There are obviously some remarkable differences in the development models between the two cities as well.  Namely, Oregon's Urban Growth Boundaries, which have pushed development back into the core cities in the region.  However, population growth in Portland is outpacing job growth, causing their unemployment rate to balloon.

 

Now, the trains:  the MAX required the acquisition of land through the Downtown area and out into the 'burbs, both of which it did quite effectively, but at a high price.  It's lines have exceeded ridership projections and recent expansions have come in under budget.  The Portland Streetcar has exceeded ridership projections as well and has already seen a major expansion only 3 years into operation.  The streetcar shares a right-of-way with automobiles and didn't even require the streets to be shut down during construction.  Their waiting areas are similar in size to a major bus stop, but have better rider information and gather income from advertising along the route.  The major differences between the two are the size of the cars, their speed, and the routes they take.  It would be very difficult to wind the MAX down these small streets and navigate the transition from center-to-center in Downtown Portland.  However, the small, flexible streetcar is designed to do just that.  The Max is designed to hit a few major stations in the Center City and then take to the interstate routes for high-speed connections to suburban hubs and the airport.  One other thing to note is that most of Portland's Downtown streets are one-way and with the exception of Burnside, there are no major avenues (Superiors or Euclids or St. Clairs) to be found.

 

The Portland Streetcar opened while I was living in Downtown Portland in 2001.  All along its route, new shops were opening, facades were being renovated and there were a number of gigantic housing and retail developments popping up along its route where land had sat idle for years prior.  They have been able to use this as a tool for development, much in the way that I would like to see Cleveland use the BRT and potential additions such as a Downtown streetcar and expansions in the light rail along the Lakefront.

 

I agree with you there clvlndr...our greatest potential for a BIG IDEA lies in the potential expansion of the Waterfront line in conjunction with the rezoning and redesign of the Lakefront and Shoreway.  This is a no-brainer...so let's not screw it up!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wasn't "rant"ing, but rather trying to spark discussion.  The point being, as nice as it is to speculate, WE the few who know about and care about transit in this town need to focus, and we need to focus on what's best and viable for our town.  Go look at Pittsburgh's PAT transit website, and the whole town, mayor, transit chief, chamber of commerce woman, etc, is focused on one project -- build a tunnel under the Allegheny River to eventually extend light rail to the airport.  Most transit cities are this way... Cleveland?  We're always a bunch of squabbling factions that can never get anything done -- my plan's better than yours, and his is better than both of ours, etc.

 

Personally, I think the best program is to extend the Waterfront line along the east Lakefront.  It will grow our lakefront, density/population-wise a hell of a lot faster than our do-nothing Mayor’s vague, general plan she’s put forth to turn the Shoreway into a boulevard – among others… Most can agree (I'd think) on this.  Your idea of expansion of trolleys under the Det-Sup bridge to rail on the near West Side certainly isn't a bad idea; actually it's a good one, but we should play our strongest card.  Frankly, I think are close in areas like Near West/Ohio City are pretty well served (for now) w/ the Rapid and multi bus lines -- you can get downtown in a flash and to most portions of the west side.  The lakefront, though, has no transit save St. Clair buses several blocks to the south.  The Waterfront is right their at the edge ready to be extended.  Let’s not make this difficult people and blow it (like we did the simple 1.5 mile extension of the Green Line, logically, to I-271 – let’s come together and stop squabbling over our pet projects and throw our collective weight behind the BEST one)

 

My thoughts about current, generally (for now) acceptable transit extends to the near east side – ie, while I'm not gaga over ECP but as it's transit and all we've got going right now, so I'll support it - maybe it can lead to something and, at least, we're building SOMETHING. 

 

I'm cautiously optimistic about KJP's info about Akron Metro "quietly" buying diesel MU cars for a potential expansion/creation of commuter rail over CVSR (but isn’t embarrassing that our smaller satellite suburb/city, Akron, is taking the lead on developing commuter rail over big bad RTA? – hey, however we can get it, I won’t look that gift horse in the mouth).  Commuter rail and regional Amtrak (if, indeed, Amtrak can survive Bush) is critical to NEO. 

 

One Q, even though the focus on such a rail terminal has been on the North Coast, it seems the CVSR rail terminal is being listed as Tower City.  How will that work?  Will tracks be brought up to the parking area so passengers can use the TC parking lot escalators like drivers or will they have to make their way (somehow) all the way up from Flats/Cuyahoga river level up to Tower City and Public Square? 

 

If anybody's got insight on this, please let us know...

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the compliment Clvlndr. I do think a streetcar line can work in a downtown area IF traffic signals are prioritized for transit vehicles. I'd like to see this done with a test route, like the ECIP or the #326 along Detroit and Superior avenues. In fact, I think ECIP will have the signal prioritization feature. If the technology was available more than 50 years ago, I suspect we might not have lost at least some of the busier streetcar routes. But then there was the Albert Porter factor, so who knows....

 

As for the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, the plan is to extend it up to Tower City's parking level at the east end. There is a stairwell and elevator up from the parking lot at the mid-point of the Gateway Walkway that can be used to get people up into the facility and into the city without having to extend tracks into the center of Tower City's parking area, which is of course more heavily used.

 

To get a track into Tower City, portions of a former Wheeling & Lake Erie RR right of way would be used, generally along Canal Road. If you look at the downtown map at the front of the Cuyahoga County Commercial Survey map, follow the CSX right of way along the river to where it makes a hard right turn near the intersection of Canal and West 3rd. From that point, the CVSR right of way would cross Canal Road and work its way up the hillside, onto a portion of the W&LE right of way that its trains used in order to get into Cleveland Union Terminal. Constructing this track will be like threading a needle, but it can be done.

 

KJP


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is the status of the train coming to tower city?

 

Memphis has a series of trolleys that are 1. a decen investment and 2. a huge waste of money.  One line connects three different entertainment districts around downtown.  It is fairly empty until the weekend evenings.  The accompanying streetscape project has created an area where residential is just now starting to boom.  On the other hand, the local transit company (MTA) finished an extension last year that is rarely used.  It connects a poor immigrant neighborhood, the medical centers and downtown.  The cars are ridiculously slow.  It would be much quicker to take a bus or your own car.  Truly, it is painfully slow.  It cost $80 million, but it is unlikely to spur much development. It looks pretty, but that's all.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clvlndr, if ever my comments come across as "sassy," please remember that I'm not into "emoticoning," so you may be missing a sarcastic wink here and there.  I agree...we're all sparking discussion that would otherwise not be had.

 

And I will just add that I agree with your assessment of the Lakefront extension as a priority, not only because of its potential to spur development along the Shoreway, but also because it is true that the Near West Side is pretty well served by the Red Line.  Therefore, the streetcar line that I spoke of is less of a priority as far as a development driver.  However, there is no physical plan set in motion, as yet, on the Lakefront.  There is a population to serve in the Near West Side, where there really isn't one to speak of along the eastern Shoreway.  I'm all for pushing this thing forward with all of my energy once all the studies are done and contracts are going out.  This could be a while, though.

 

The other thing about the streetcar is that it could serve that new population sprouting up along Superior and Payne, just east of Downtown.  I'm going to look into how Portland's was funded and see how much of it was private developer-driven...I'm curious.

 

And I am ever-anxious for the Cuyahoga Valley Park to reach Downtown Cleveland and the lake.  The addition of the train is an excellent bonus!  Anyone have any estimated dates on progress north from Independence?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The planners at the county told me it would take 3-6 years to get the towpath trail up to downtown.  I just feel that they are being overly optimistic.  Or maybe I am being overly pessimistic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know the area along the eastern shoreway very well.  Some of you are saying that it would be the next logical step for an extension.  Where should the extension end?  It seems that no one lives on that route until you get to MLK drive.  It would be a nice place to put high rise condos that overlook the lake, but it is so dreary there with the highway.  I don't see it as being a very popular place to live.  The problem with Cleveland is that our traffic is not that bad.  It will be hard to convince people to take public transit if driving is so easy. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Quay55 building on E55th is the only residential I can think of along there (there are plans in the works to add additional condos there too), that would be within easy distance of Waterfront Line, then there is a buch of residential off of St Clair. Currently all we have is a bunch of idustrial sites along the eastern shoreway, overlooking views of the lake. The driver for extending the Waterfront line is to develop a new residential area along its route, and getting rid of the industy. RTA talks about low ridership of the waterfront line, but its a damn botique line what did they expect? It goes to East bank of flats (dead empty), west 3rd, amtrack station, kinda near science and rock hall, and dead ends in a parking lot. RTA allways like to use the waterfront line as an excuse not to do more rail, but extending it and encourageing development further east near it, and make it a success as a result would be the middle finger to all the naysayers out there

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well spoken, smackem!  I like the classification of the Waterfront Line as a "boutique line."  It sounds classy, but not very functional...

 

As to new development along the Lakefront, we have our waterfront plan set out, but it's just a framework for development.  The actualy projects won't come until we make a move on the future of the Innerbelt and the Shoreway.  These public decisions and investments will push zoning changes, property acquisition and eventually, development.  This is probably a long ways off, but most definitely something that the City, State and RTA should be thinking about as far as long-term planning for projects and funding.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

maybe there is prob still backlash on the wfl rapid within rta because it was mike white's baby and not their own idea. i'm just guessing on that. it is obvious the wfl could be used to drive development if it were extended east. or brought back into the city center. or ideally both!

 

to add to clvlndr's list, you forgot to add the obvious recent transit comparison! it's to cleveland's evil twin city seattle (per that rather infamous wash post article)!

 

no one has dragged their knuckles on rail transit longer than seattle. after pitching out rail with the bathwater in the 1970's, the $$$ of which btw instead became wash dc's subway system, 'ol yuppieville seattle is today going bonkers for rail. first they arranged commuter rail startup w/ amtrak recently, now they are building for light-rail and digging new tunnels. they are also planning for more extensions and suburban services, and most damning of all, they have done it all by grabbing up every government dollar they can lay hands on. the money is there for the taking---but you have to make the plan and apply for it! they too could have wimped out for a glorified bus line....but they didn't, because they learned from the past, they planned and moved forward. they thought big about the future, not small. aww ugh!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hate the "we can't do it in here in Cleveland" mindset, but we can't dream as if we have all the money in the world.  Could we have afforded to pay for rail instead of brt?  There is a large chunk of state and city money that has to go into the project.  Seattle is in a different economic situation than we are and can tackle projects that Cleveland can't.  That said, I wonder what it takes to get transit done in a town like Cleveland.  We have all these nice threads about what we would do.  I would like to think more about what we can do, and how we can do it.  What does it take? I have no experience in government and planning.  What needs to happen for improved transit in Cleveland?  We are not in the situation of "build it and they will come."  We would need other efforts to help make the transit project a success. I am curious as to what is being done along Euclid to help spur development after the Silver line opens.  I am not against BRT if it works and drives development. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wimwar, the problem is that we aren't fusing land use and transportation planning together.  RTA builds a BRT line and simply hopes that others will do something around it.  Meanwhile, Aldi is building a stock suburban style grocery on what is supposed to be our revived grand avenue.  ODOT plans a new Innerbelt without considering how it could best be an asset to the city it serves.  Housing groups build housing on a basis that is more "opportunistic" than planned to achieve a long term goal.  Everyone works with blinders on to maximize their own limited set of variables.  The result is missed opportunities.

 

When I think about the Silver Line, I can't help but think about how in our "evil twin" Seattle (I wonder what they would think of being called a twin to Cleveland), the transportation agency is actually working with the communities along the light rail line to come up with station area plans for all of their stations in order to best integrate transportation and land use.  They are being proactive about ensuring that land use will support their transportation investment.  RTA, although it has a renewed interest in transit oriented development, isn't willing to reach out and initiate this sort of planning yet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the info re CVSR's connection to Tower City, KJP.

 

That would be great to have an indoor connection where people don't have to climb uphill through potentially bad weather.  Years ago, trying to find our way from the Flats to Eagle road we got hopelessly lost in that area.  It's rather spooky, truly the bowels of Terminal Tower.  Canal Rd is dark and pockmarked w/ crater-sized chuckholes.  There's nobody down there whatsoever, not even the homeless.  I vaguely recall railroad tracks, but couldn't place them.  My AAA map is kinda vague, too, just showing all kinds of lines twisting about (and crossing) the river all the way to the current Valley View CVSR terminus.  I trust there will be enough track space at the loading area you mention for at least a couple trains.

 

That NEOrail website RTA idiotically has had un-updated for now over 6 years even lists CVSR as ending on riverbed level with commuters either transferring to the WFL at Settlers Landing to make the trip uphill to downtown or by simply hoofing it.

 

I'm not in love with the location of CVSR as a serious commuter rail line -- it's away from a lot of suburbanites btw Cleveland and Akron and probably will get flooded out often by its closeness to the Cuyahoga river --  but would be very happy that it would get us off the shnide and, at least, connect w/ the Valley View Corp center, as well as Akron and Canton (including the A-C airport, thus giving us Hopkins to A-C rail transit).  Plus it serves a region that has no Rapid line even remotely serving it, so no overlap.

 

Akron METRO RTA's website indicates that this transit agency has been aggressively buying up rail/freight rights of way in the area, including a line to Hudson.  Any insight as to this?  Also, it mentioned they'd purchased Maryland (MARC) commuter equipment.  KJP, your earlier post gives me hope about CVSR.  But is it hope ground in reality?  If so, how far off are they (Akron) years-wise from getting this done?

 

Thanks in advance for your answers...

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Akron Metro and the port authorities in the Akron area have acquired a number of rights of way, including Akron to Huson; Akron to Tallmadge, Kent and Ravenna;  Akron to Canton via the Goodyear Airdock and A-C Airport, plus another route or two I'm probably forgetting. The MARC equipment Akron Metro acquired a couple of years ago is being used by CVSR but could certainly be used for commuter service in the future.

 

As for how soon they could get into Tower City Center....that depends on CSX giving them permission to cross access their right of way, including their bridge over the Cuyahoga River under I-490. It's not exactly a very busy freight railroad, but freight railroads fear passengers and their attorneys. They want some form of liability protection. Also, the CVSR is non-union while CSX is.

 

An alternative is that CVSR buys the CSX right of way and lets CSX lease it from them -- probably the most likely scenario given CSX's withdrawal from owning a number of Ohio routes (either by sale or lease). Then, CVSR would have to get a federal appropriation, probably through the National Park Service, to extend the track up the hill to Tower City. Lots of issues to consider, but small enough to grasp them all within a few thoughts. It can definitely be done.

 

KJP


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I hate the "we can't do it in here in Cleveland" mindset, but we can't dream as if we have all the money in the world.  Could we have afforded to pay for rail instead of brt?  There is a large chunk of state and city money that has to go into the project.  Seattle is in a different economic situation than we are and can tackle projects that Cleveland can't.

 

i don't buy that argument one bit --- it dodges the point!

 

because of a lot of hard work and planning by the city of seattle and their local soundtransit agency, last fall the fall the fta appoved paying $500m of their brand new 14-mile rail project. that's waay more than the freakin sliver line right there! rta only grabbed $82.2m from fta for it's cheapskate ecp.

 

i'm saying our uncle sam has the money to give for transit, it just takes the vision, planning and hard work to aim higher and to go get it. rta and the city copped out with a lack of vision on this glorified articulated bus silver line thingy. oh well, the new streetscaping will be nice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been away from the computer for a while due to a death in the family, but I wanted to get this string back active again.

 

Something I was thinking about is how to afford the local share for transit improvement projects and new transit lines through Tax Increment Financing. For those not familiar with TIFs, they work like this:  a new infrastructure project, like a light-rail line, is proposed and the project's impact on property values is estimated. If there is a projected increase in property values on the right of way, the affected communities create a special taxing district along the LRT line (doesn't require a change in the tax rate, just an earmarking of the property taxes for the transit project). Those taxes are used to issue and retire a construction bond.

 

Let's say a new light-rail line from Cleveland, be it to Euclid or to Westlake, will cost $300 million to build (about $20 million per mile). The federal government has been willing to pay at least 50 percent of a transit line's capital costs. If you throw a little bit of ODOT money into the picture, it might increase the non-local share to the 60-70 percent range, or $180 million to $210 million total. Now the local share is reduced to $90 million to $120 million. So, for example, if an agency can get about $500,000 in property tax revenues from parcels along the rail line, the agency could afford a 30-year bond issue, at 6% (being conservative!), to raise $83.5 million.

 

What's left over is where an electric utility can help fill the fiscal gap. Utilities have shown much interest in light-rail lines, for obvious reasons. Their interest has gone so far as to include offering to help pay for the overhead eletrical systems to power the trains, which the utility is then paid back by the transit agency, and even by new development along the LRT line. Cost of these overhead electrical "catenary" systems is typically about $2 million per mile, for a double-tracked rail line, or about $30 million for a 15-mile LRT line.

 

The end result of all this is that no new taxes have to be levied, and the transit agency's share of costs are only those that are incurred from the operations of the line. If the line doesn't have a lot of unnecessary frills, and has some extra revenue generation opportunities (leases at stations, advertising, air-rights fees, etc), the LRT line could incur lower operating costs than a parallel, heavily used bus line.

 

This should be the MO for all transit agencies, not just RTA, who seek to become players in revitalizing their communities in a transit-oriented way. But, for now, transit agencies are being called upon only as social safety nets (ie: rolling soup kitchens) or, at best, be tapped as relief valves for congested roads, while little or nothing is done to make the surrounding land uses more supportive of greater transit use. Transit agencies shouldn't be chasing after the scraps of a highway dominated transportation system. They should be looking for ways to creatively use the tools already at their disposal to reshape the urban landscape in a way that satisfies not only their mission, but serves a variety of individual and community goals.

 

KJP


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...