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The Euclid Corridor in Cleveland & Transportation Priorities for a Changing World

What would a Euclid Corridor type project look like, if it were implemented in your community?

Transportation Initiatives in Ohio

Euclid Corridor

The Euclid Corridor project in Cleveland – now called the RTA Health Line – is an example of a transit investment that has stimulated urban reinvestment in a high-density corridor. It has good place-making attributes, and it supports the innovation of the University Circle “eds & meds” district. This district has several anchor institutions, including two universities, two medical centers, and a host of businesses and cultural institutions. It also provides a strong physical and aesthetic link between two important economic engines in the region - downtown and University Circle.

Euclid Avenue used to be an eyesore with potholes, cracked paving and sunken sidewalks – now you can ride on custom designed bus rapid transit (or BRT), powered by a hybrid diesel-electric engine. BRT affords the dedicated right-of-way of light rail but the versatility of a bus. The new public art, bicycle paths, landscape designs, sidewalks and passenger stations are an excellent example of “complete streets.” Complete Streets is a growing movement in the U.S. based on the idea that a complete street – sidewalks, bike paths, median islands, curb extensions and more - balances safety and convenience for everyone using the road. (Read more about the Euclid Corridor.)

The new bus stations designed by Robert Madison International of Cleveland for the new Euclid Avenue Health Line add to the city's urban landscape.

Invest in a New Direction

Euclid Corridor is now a national model that shows how smart investments in transit and public space can help struggling cities turn themselves around. It’s also an investment that is expected to help the community reduce its expenses and save money, ultimately freeing it from oil dependency and creating clean, green long-term jobs. We advocate similar priority investments that offer multiple pay-offs.

A recent poll by the National Association of Realtors and Transportation for America (T4America) concluded that an overwhelming 80 percent of Americans want the federal economic stimulus package to emphasize road and bridge repair and transit, not new road construction. Transportation and development go hand in hand. Our nation can no longer afford to sink money into highway lanes or transit that become overwhelmed or undermined by poorly planned development. We need a more efficient system that rewards communities for developing in smarter, more sustainable ways, reducing energy use and carbon emissions while ensuring the availability of housing affordable to families of all incomes, near job centers and public transit. (Read more at http://t4america.org/blog)

An earthwork was created at University Circle as part of Cleveland's new bus rapid transit line on Euclid Avenue.

Also in Greater Ohio's February E-newsletter

Greater Ohio applauds the bold initiative that the state is launching to plan for transportation in our changing world, as laid out in the Ohio’s 21 st Century Transportation Priorities report recently released by Governor Strickland’s Task Force on which Greater Ohio co-director, Gene Krebs, served as a governor-appointed member. Greater Ohio encourages policy recommendations that call for transformative infrastructure investments and align with our Restoring Prosperity to Ohio Initiative policy agenda, such as: aligning the policies and practices of state agencies; launching a Making Regions Matter initiative; expanding the use of alternative fuel technologies; and supporting “smart growth” solutions and public transit. (View the entire Ohio’s 21 st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force report here.)

Make Transformative Infrastructure Investments

But the federal economic stimulus package provides an unprecedented opportunity for Ohio to go beyond these recommendations and undertake truly transformative infrastructure investment projects -- investments that drive economic development when led in a way that directs funding to projects with the highest return for the future. Ohio’s projects must build off President Obama's plan to advance a stimulus package that ignites short-term economic growth but also puts the nation on the path to long-term prosperity, including a shift into the green economy.

New Mexico's Rail Runner opened for service from Albuquerque to Santa Fe in December 2008 with peak ridership.

Therefore, in Ohio we call for: (1) identifying "green" investments that will reduce vehicle miles traveled or carbon emissions in general, such as transit-oriented development; (2) upgrading existing urban and suburban roads -- including state routes that run through our cities (“fix it first”). At least 40 percent of overall transportation infrastructure spending should be targeted towards transit and intercity rail investments that will begin to build a green transportation network; and (3) requiring greater accountability and transparency by attaching performance criteria to infrastructure investments, so they are truly transformative in meeting economic, social, and environment/energy goals. Ohio’s plan must embody a new approach to funding transportation projects that aligns with that suggested here and the emerging federal perspective.

Learn more at the Feb. 18 Columbus Metropolitan Club Forum

Learn more about transformative infrastructure investments at the February 18 Columbus Metropolitan Club Forum, “Real Reasons for Rail,” featuring Gene Krebs, Chester Jourdan of MORPC, and Bill Habig of Transportation Matters. Register at www.columbusmetroclub.org.