The Federal Transit Administration has awarded grants for planning potential new rail development projects that could build on existing passenger rail services in Cleveland and Akron.
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority was awarded $1 million for an alternatives analysis of extending a higher level of transit service to the eastern edge of the Authority’s service area, while providing enhanced commuter options to downtown Cleveland/University Circle and promoting redevelopment. The study will examine the potential options for a Red Line rail or HealthLine bus rapid transit extension in Cleveland, East Cleveland and Euclid.
Akron Metro RTA was awarded $270,000 for an alternatives analysis of improving public transit service in an under-served area where it is difficult to provide bus service due to uneven terrain and roadway connectivity issues. The study area is along an eight-mile railway corridor used by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad extending from the Valley Business District on Merriman Road southeast through downtown Akron and to the Goodyear Corporate Campus in South Akron.
If these alternatives analyses show that one or more options could meet federal cost-effectiveness criteria, then local officials could select an option to advance to preliminary engineering. If the FTA finds the project would cause no significant environmental impacts, it could award federal funds to pay up to half of the construction costs. This process takes 10 years on average for a transportation project to go from idea to ribbon-cutting. More time is needed if many properties have to be acquired or buildings demolished.
That may not be the case with the Akron project, where the railroad corridor is already owned by the National Park Service northwest of Howard Street and Akron Metro RTA southeastward.
The analysis of extending the Red Line or the HealthLine will generate data and debate. A large number of residents of Northeast Cuyahoga County and Lake County commute into Downtown Cleveland and University Circle, Cuyahoga County’s two largest employment districts.
For further information, see: http://fta.dot.gov/grants/13094.html