Today, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson announced a sweeping $350 million plan with funding to develop economic development projects from Public Square to the Downtown Lakefront. These improvements will include a large, convention center-sized hotel, redesigned Public Square and a walkway linking the hotel and soon-to-open Global Center for Health Innovation and Convention Center with a Multimodal Transportation Center and North Coast Harbor, home of several visitor destinations such as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This $50 million transportation center and walkway is contingent on the city receiving $17 million in federal TIGER funds.
“All Aboard Ohio is very supportive of the downtown plan put forth by County Executive FitzGerald and Mayor Jackson in general, and of the Multimodal Transportation Center project in particular. Specifically, we urge the U.S. Department of Transportation to award the grant after two prior attempts by the city in what is a highly popular and competitive program where funding requests far exceed funding availability. We believe this transportation center is the kind of stimulative project the Obama Administration wants. It will produce a foundation from which more projects can emerge,” said All Aboard Ohio Executive Director Ken Prendergast.
This could lead to the expansion of Amtrak passenger rail service, including in daytime hours. Amtrak’s popular Chicago-East Coast services have seen their ridership grow 33 percent since 2000. Last year, 630,000 travelers rode Amtrak through Cleveland — the most rail passengers in more than four decades. But since Cleveland has only nighttime trains, fewer passengers got on/off here than in towns as small as Durham, NH or Williston, ND.
Expansion of all stations in between Chicago and New York could change that. At Cleveland, an expanded station facility could include:
- Relocating the 35-year-old Amtrak station facility into the proposed parking complex below the Civic Plaza and Bike Station;
- Widening the existing platform to Track 44 for ADA compliance and to expand the station into a two-track facility;
- Refurbishing Track 44 and adding a cross-over track to the existing Amtrak track immediately east of the station;
- Adding a stairwell and elevator to link the city’s proposed walkway with the wider station platform below;
- Enhancing pedestrian linkages to GCRTA’s Waterfront Line stations at North Coast/East 9th and West Third, possibly via the Amtrak platform.
These future enhancements would result in a station facility that can process passengers from two tracks. All Aboard Ohio believes that providing two-track station facilities between Chicago-New York City is essential to improving rail traffic fluidity so that more freight and passenger traffic can be handled on this growing rail corridor. Also, relocating Cleveland’s Amtrak station inside the Multimodal Transportation Center and demolishing the aging Amtrak structure would avail a city-owned parcel that is well-positioned for redevelopment, especially with all of the transportation and pedestrian linkages that could soon be adjacent. Amtrak has pledged $4.25 million for state-of-good-repair and ADA improvements at its Cleveland station.