Public Square Architect 'Anticipated' Bus Traffic Being Phased Out


[image-1]Mayor Frank Jackson's insistence that Public Square not include bus traffic is picking up steam — despite the $50-million city centerpiece renovation being completed already — thanks to architect James Corner's totally chill admission to that "We always anticipated that one day it might close anyway."

Who knew? 

Corner goes on to tell Steven Litt that the design of Public Square wouldn't really be different, despite removing a two-lane roadway from the middle of it, and adds that changing the layout to suit Jackson's fancy isn't even a big deal. "No problem," according to Litt. 

The problems — depending on perspective, one supposes — are delineated neatly in the Rustwire link below and in the 2012 traffic study that laid out extensive costs to RTA in the event that bus traffic is shuffled out of the square entirely. (See original stories below.)

"The redesign of Public Square called for buses to use Superior Avenue," an RTA spokesperson tells Scene today. "The Group Plan Commission design and construction went forward with Superior Avenue reserved for RTA only, with the exception that when major events were held in Public Square, RTA would vacate Superior Avenue and use the perimeter roadways.

"With Public Square construction now successfully complete, the City Traffic Department has reached out to RTA for information regarding daily and peak-hour bus frequency in Public Square.

"That information, which has been supplied to the City Traffic Department, shows that significantly fewer buses per day would travel around the perimeter roads of Public Square if Superior Avenue was open to RTA."

Originally published Aug. 1

With Mayor Frank Jackson's 13th-hour call to ban bus traffic from the newly redesigned Public Square, RTA announced today that the return of bus traffic through the square has been delayed — with no firm date to reinstate it. (Public Square bus traffic was supposed to restart today.)

Via RTA: "Although the original plan was to resume bus service on Superior Ave through Public Square on August 1, the City of Cleveland & RTA...are in discussions regarding when and if the buses will be allowed to use the designed, exclusive transit lanes."

Ah, the old "if" qualifier. 

Rustwire published some quick, reasonable and extremely basic reasons why this is a concerning move on the city's part. 

Originally published July 29

The newly redesigned Public Square has been open just one month — a brief timeframe that included brutish RNC shenanigans en masse — and, here we go, Mayor Frank Jackson wants to fuss with it.

NEOMG's Mark Naymik dropped the news today, reporting on "informal discussions" about the mayor's wish to bar RTA bus traffic from the two-block stretch of Superior Avenue that bisects the square — thus closing the square entirely from any traffic. (The current plan allows only buses to trek eastward and westward through the square.)

Jackson's wanted this for a while. “I want to see one big square,” Jackson told Cleveland Magazine in 2012. And when questioned about possibly closing just one of the streets at the time, he said, "We could make it two halves, but that’s not a square. A square is one piece.”

Indeed. Still, that was then, before $50 million had been poured into the "two-halves" plan.

At that time, a consultant hired by Jackson and the Group Plan Commission (to the tune of $120,000) recommended keeping Superior open to bus traffic. That would reduce overall traffic congestion in the area and prevent the city from "displacing nearly 18,000 bus passenger pick-ups and drop-offs daily," as reported at the time. Closing Superior to bus traffic would also tack on a cool $2.6 million in annual operating costs to RTA's already concerning balance sheet, according to that 2012 study.

RTA has been rather mum on the mayor's renewed push to relocate Public Square bus traffic. 

Naymik points out that the two halves of Public Square do sort of blend into one another, but, he rightfully notes, there is essentially a street (curb cuts and all) built into the very expensive park — a street that was built into the redesign for the purpose of bus traffic. On that note, we ask: What's up with the redesigned redesign wish list from City Hall? 

No word yet, if ever, on where this debate is headed.

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