City's Public Square Traffic Data Collected, but no Timeline for Discussions

James Corner Field Operations
Via a City Hall spokesman, the city of Cleveland has now completed its studies of traffic patterns on Public Square. The studies were undertaken at the behest of Mayor Frank Jackson, who wanted intel gathered post-RNC to determine whether or not buses should be allowed on Superior Avenue, in the lane through the Square built expressly for them. 

The city is now reportedly "in discussions" with partners and stakeholders, but the spokesman could not offer a timeline for when those discussions would conclude.

It has now been exactly one month since buses were supposed to have been let back on Superior Avenue following the RNC. As others continue to note, the current "studying" seems redundant, given that the firm Nelson Nygard conducted a $120,000 study in 2014 which concluded that keeping Superior Avenue open to buses made the most financial sense. 

The $50 million Public Square was designed according to those recommendations. 

City Hall confirmed that RTA is and always has been part of the studies, discussions and decision-making processes, but some have wondered why Joe Calabrese hasn't been more vocal about the issue. 

According to Nelson Nygard estimates, RTA could lose $2.6 million per year if Superior Avenue were to remain closed. That's an enormous sum of money for an agency that just imposed a fare hike and made small service cuts to plug its current budget hole.

Should RTA be making noise? Has RTA been too quiet?

"I don’t feel that I’ve been quiet," said Joe Calabrese in a recent interview with Scene. "What I’ve said since day one was that the city and RTA are working together to look at a bunch of information related to how traffic patterns may have changed over the last couple years during the construction process... When information is gathered, there will be a sit-down and hopefully the best decision will be made."

Calabrese said that, in fact, Mayor Jackson's decision to restrict bus access on the Square on August 1 did not come as a surprise. (It certainly did to us).

"Discussions between the city and RTA were happening well prior to August 1," he said. "We had long known that during the RNC it would be used as a significant asset, which it was, and that the earliest we’d be getting in was sometime around August 1, which was a date I did throw out there in the May-June time frame. Really, the Mayor just wants to do the right thing, and ask his traffic people and security people, safety people, along with input from my staff, to look at the situation to come up with the best plan possible for the future. It’s as simple as that."

About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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