Study of Proposed Canton Streetcar Continues

Stark Area Regional Transit Authority continues to plan for creating a 9.8-mile streetcar service connecting downtown Canton and the Akron-Canton Airport.

Public hearings held last month showed the proposed service would include stops at Pro Football Hall of Fame Village, Belden Village shopping center, Tuscarawas Street West, 12th Street Northwest, Everhard Road Northwest, Dressler Road Northwest, and Mt. Pleasant Road.

Timothy Rosenberger, the project manager at the consulting firm WSP USA, said the streetcar line would cost between $50 million and $100 million and take three to five years to complete.

SARTA has not said how it will fund development of the streetcar line, but federal grants are expected to cover between 50 percent and 80 percent of the cost.

However, SARTA has yet to develop a plan to pay for the operating costs of the service.

Officials said during the public meetings the primary goal of the service is to encourage HOF visitors to visit other economic generators and tourism spots in the area.

An existing rail line parallel to Interstate 77 used by the Wheeling & Lake Erie and at one time by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad would make up much of the route.

New track would need to be built in downtown Canton to the Cornerstone Transit Center on Cherry Street Southeast.

The track is owned by Akron Metro Transit, which acquired it years ago for potential commuter train service between Akron and Canton.

The service would require five streetcars with a capacity of 100 each.

The travel time from downtown Canton to the airport would be about 30 minutes and cars would run between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on 15-minute headways with less frequent service on weekends.

A $100,000 feasibility study paid for with a federal grant is underway and expected to be completed by September.

Once the study is complete additional public hearings will be held before SARTA decides whether to proceed with the project.

Planners have not decided who would own the streetcar service. It could be owned by a private not-for-profit organization or run by SARTA or another entity.

A SARTA official at one of the public meeting said the agency is not considering asking voters to approve an increase in the sales tax to pay for the streetcar service.

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