All Aboard Ohio is urging the inclusion of several transit elements to the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) addressing Cleveland’s Opportunity Corridor project. The suggestions were made in response to a November 14, 2013 letter from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the Federal Highway Administration and Ohio Department of Transportation regarding the lack of transit services and infrastructure, as well as a lack of consideration for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) land uses surrounding existing or future transit services.
Specifically, the USEPA urged “that ODOT coordinate further with GCRTA [Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority], the city of Cleveland, and HUD to consider TOD opportunities that could be specifically linked to this proposed roadway.” USEPA also recommended “the FEIS should identify which, if any, rail transit station or bus routes will be eliminated, re-located, or added along the project corridor.”
In a January 3, 2014 letter to ODOT District 12 Deputy Director Myron S. Pakush, All Aboard Ohio Executive Director Ken Prendergast suggested that ODOT carefully consider these elements as part of its FEIS:
- Relocate the East 79th Red Line station to near East 89th Street, in the vicinity of Buckeye Road and Woodland Avenue, as recommended in the Dual Hub Transitional Analysis adopted by GCRTA et al.
- Lengthen the East 105th-Quincy Red Line station platform to accommodate 3-car trains and add a station pedestrian entrance from the east side of a widened East 105th Street.
- Partner with the City of Cleveland and the affected CDCs on TOD planning and zoning, including making available a basket of incentives to developers for providing a dense mix of land uses within a half-mile radius of both stations.
Guidance for many of these elements exists in the Dual Hub Preferred Investment Strategy adopted by GCRTA, City of Cleveland, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and the Federal Transit Administration. While the Dual Hub strategy was adopted in 1995, it continues to be implemented — most recently ground was broken in October for relocating the East 120th-Euclid Red Line station to Little Italy-Mayfield. The most significant Dual Hub component implemented to date is the HealthLine Bus Rapid Transit on Euclid Avenue. The Dual Hub Preferred Investment Strategy also urged relocation of the East 79th Red Line station to the vicinity of East 89th.
GCRTA faces an upcoming ADA compliance deadline in 2016 regarding the East 79th Red Line station, which cannot simply be repaired to comply with ADA. The aging station with a wooden platform must be completely rebuilt with an elevator, new headhouse, platform with tactile edges and more. Neither GCRTA, the city or any community group has requested funding in NOACA’s three-year Transportation Improvement Program (updated in 2013) for rebuilding the existing station. There is also little hope of ridership growth at this station as no transit-supportive land use plans or zoning have been implemented. Thus surrounding properties were recently acquired for light industrial and trucking/metal recycling users. For these reasons GCRTA will likely be forced to close this station. The Blue-Green Line station farther south on East 79th is not affected. It is in a mostly residential area and can be accessed by the installation of new ADA ramps rather than an elevator.
To satisfy the USEPA’s calls for Transit Oriented Development in the Opportunity Corridor, All Aboard Ohio urges consideration of relocating the East 79th Red Line station to the East 89th area (preferably between Buckeye and Woodland), a site adopted by GCRTA, City of Cleveland, Federal Transit Administration, and NOACA in the Dual Hub Preferred Investment Strategy. All Aboard Ohio welcomes a neighborhood-level dialogue and zoning to implement transit-supportive land use plans in accordance with the USEPA’s suggestions. The East 89th area is more ideally suited for TOD as it has smaller parcels and more neighborhood-oriented uses like the Kenneth L. Recreation Center and St. Elizabeth Church.
Furthermore, All Aboard Ohio encourages ODOT to work closely with GCRTA on plans for modifying the East 105th-Quincy station with a longer platform to accommodate 3-car trains and to restore the station access point on the east side of a widened East 105th. We anticipate that health-care related development along with supportive activities such as housing, retail and offices for medical and educational facilities from neighboring University Circle, may spread southward along East 105th toward the Red Line station. We urge the station be designed to provide direct pedestrian/bicycle access to the East 105th corridor and the city’s land use plan for this corridor support pedestrian/bicycle-friendly routes and environments.
All Aboard Ohio believes these are achievable, affordable elements to support Transit-Oriented Development and neighborhood enhancements. ODOT should include them in its Final Environmental Impact Study for the Opportunity Corridor project. For station-related graphics and more information, please see All Aboard Ohio’s January 3, 2013 letter to ODOT HERE.