Posts Tagged ‘Stark County Area Transportation Study’

Light Rail Service Eyed in Canton

July 6, 2021

Canton officials want to study the possibility of a light rail service that would whisk visitors between the Pro Football Hall of Fame and downtown and someday to the Akron-Canton Airport.

The city engineering office and the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority will seek a $25,000 grant to explore the idea.

The grant application has been submitted to the Stark County Area Transportation Study.

However, Canton Enginer Dan Moeglin said SCATS has told him the rail project is not high on that agency’s priority list.

Officials say the development of the Hall of Fame Village with new hotels and attractions would draw a significant number of people from out of the area.

The proposed rail service would cost between $25 million to $50 million with officials hoping the Federal Transit Administration would cover at least 80 percent of the costs.

SARTA CEO Kirt Conrad said the project would take at least two years from approval to construction. The project could be halted if the Hall of Fame Village ends failing to develop.

“If it’s not cost effective and we’re not going to get the return on investment, then we’re not going to do it,” Moeglin said.

 “We think having that dedicated line to and from the Village and downtown creates a calling card and attractiveness that a simple bus doesn’t provide,” he said.

Canton officials envision using track owned by Akron Metro Regional Transit Authority that was once used by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad between Akron and Canton.

A portion of this line is used by the Wheeling & Lake Erie for freight service.

If the rail service develops, a station would be established near the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the southwest corner of Fulton Road NW and Harrison Avenue. 

Trains would go to Tuscarawas Street west of Brown Avenue. Intermediate stops could include 12th Street NW near the McKinley Memorial and Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, the Ralph Regula Federal Building, City Hall and Stark State Downtown campus at 400 Third St. SE.

Some new track construction would be needed for the project on Third Street SW as it goes southeast from Tuscarawas and then east with a stop at Market Avenue.

Eventually, the service would be extended northward to the Akron-Canton Airport with stops in the Belden Village area with shuttle service to SARTA’s Belden Village Station on Whipple Avenue NW.

Conrad said autonomous vehicles could shuttle passengers from a station on Fulton Road NW by the track to and from the Hall of Fame.

He said he’s had only preliminary discussions with Akron Metro officials about using the rail line. Yet to be worked out is whether the city and SARTA would lease or purchase the railroad tracks.

Valerie Shea, director of planning of Akron Metro, said her agency has not “had any discussions regarding this specific proposal or its operational details at this time. However, we continue to discuss and remain open to any ideas that bring economic growth to our region.”

Conrad said a feasibility study, if funded, would take at least six months to complete.

SARTA operated a bus designed to look like a trolley for less than six months in 2006 on a loop in downtown Canton. Ridership was poor with the trolley bus carrying fewer than 10 passengers on some days.