Cleveland Permanently Shuts Buses Out of Public Square – Next City

Cleveland Permanently Shuts Buses Out of Public Square

A rendering of the completed Cleveland Public Square, with Superior Avenue running down the center (Credit: Group Plan Commission)

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson announced Tuesday that overhauled Public Square will close to bus traffic permanently, instead of allowing a trafficked 2-block section of Superior Avenue, one of the city’s busiest streets, Cleveland.com reports.

Prior to a recent $50 million renovation, Public Square had been four separate quadrants, divided by Superior Avenue running east-west and Ontario Street running north-south. The redesign closed Ontario Street to traffic, but, in a compromise with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA), still accommodated buses on a narrowed Superior Avenue, creating a Public Square split in two.

But ever since the public space reopened this year, traffic barriers on Superior Avenue remained. On Tuesday, Jackson announced the street would stay closed, reflecting his own preference and what he called strong public opinion. James Corner, the landscape architect for the project, praised the decision.

The Federal Transit Administration, however, might have a problem. The agency provided $142.2 million in 2004 for RTA’s new downtown transit zone as part of a bus rapid transit project. The FTA could rule closing Superior Avenue violates that agreement. If that happens, the RTA worries it could lose its ability to secure funding in the future.

In a press release about the closure, the city said it would work with RTA on impact and “the parties have informed the Federal Transit Administration of this decision and are seeking its concurrence.”

On Monday, the Cleveland Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant for community programming in Public Square.

Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at jakinney.com.

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