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Cleveland City Council's Transportation Committee will convene Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. to discuss the decision to close Public Square to buses. That decision was announced two week ago
by Mayor Frank Jackson and RTA CEO Joe Calabrese, who cited safety concerns and public sentiment as reasons for their decision.
But members of City Council, the city's legislative body, were miffed by the announcement. They had not been informed prior to the hastily called press conference and had not held a public hearing to discuss the matter. Both Councilmen Brian Cummins and Zack Reed publicly expressed their displeasure. Others did so privately.
At Wednesday morning's meeting, Calabrese is scheduled to brief the committee members (and all other Council members, who are invited to attend) on the impact of the decision. He said at the press conference that compensatory actions could be taken in the downtown transit zone — signal prioritization, dedicated bus lanes — to mitigate the delays caused by re-routing buses around Public Square. Frank Jackson representatives will be on hand as well, to walk City Council through the Mayor's decision-making process.
Transit advocates are planning to attend the public hearing too, and, like the council members, will be pushing for greater transparency.
“The sad part is that former Mayor Tom L. Johnson, who has a statue in Public Square, strongly advocated for big tent public meetings and affordable public transportation throughout his career,” said Chris Stocking, member of Clevelanders for Public Transit (who has also contributed to Scene)
, in a statement after the decision. “We believe Johnson would be very disappointed with the Mayor's decision as well as his lack of transparency on this issue."
Saturday, at 3 p.m., Clevelanders for Public Transit will host a press conference and rally at Public Square
in opposition to the city's decision.