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Cleveland has asked for an extension from the Federal Transit Authority after the organization sent a letter to the city demanding $12 million from the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority for what it says is a breach of an agreement for not opening the street through Public Square after the upgrades.

The FTA letter demanded $12 million by Jan. 19 or an appeal. Greater Cleveland RTA CEO Joe Calabrese told Cleveland 19 Tuesday morning that Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson had asked for an appeal to that deadline, but the FTA had not yet responded.

“Certainly the city and the FTA are in constant communications. We’re having meetings almost every day. There’s another meeting today. There were two meetings last week,” said Calabrese.

Public Square has been the subject of controversy since its reopening in August of 2016, when the city made the decision to keep Superior Avenue closed to buses. In late December, the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) sent a letter demanding $12 million from the RTA for what they say is a breach of an agreement between the two related to the closure’s negative effects on riders. The $12 million is a part of a federal grant given to the RTA in Oct. of 2004 for the construction of the Euclid Corridor Transportation Project, now known as the HealthLine.

The city of Cleveland and RTA will conduct a traffic study in Public Square beginning Wednesday to determine the effect of closing Superior Avenue to buses. It was originally planned to begin Tuesday, but freezing rain has pushed back the date.

“We kind of wanted a most normal commuting time as possible and today certainly wasn’t normal with the freezing rain and ice [so] that will happen tomorrow so it’s ongoing,” said Calabrese.

This traffic study is designed to assess if the closure of Superior Avenue is causing any delays, and, if so, what strategies the city can take to mitigate them. The city will conduct a traffic count at key intersections around Public Square.

“One of our concerns really has been that delay and the cost of the delay and the goal, along with the city, is how do we mitigate that. One of FTA concerns is the closure of that square really in two parts, number one, they feel they paid for a piece of roadway that’s not being used so they’d like the money back, but secondly they want to be sure that because that roadways closed were not having issue with productivity,” said Calabrese.

Calabrese said the study should have at least an executive summary completed by Jan. 18 – one day before the original deadline.


Article Courtesy of WOIO Cleveland 19 News

Picture Courtesy of Marco Cassago, EyeEm, and Getty Images

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