The Euclid Corridor Project: Reality Check

by Tom Reed
WMV Web News Cleveland
Story filed May 21, 2002

The Euclid Corridor Transportation Project has evolved considerably since it was first proposed, and more changes may be on the way.

The first major change was to drop plans for a trolley bus system and substitute a new generation motor bus. The next may be to eliminate the 12-foot wide landscaped median. The landscaping looks great in artists’ drawings, but some are saying it fails to pass a reality check.

The first reality is strictly mathematical. Two dedicated bus lanes, and two lanes for cars, take up half the 99-foot right-of way. The other half must include the median, sidewalks, provision for on-street parking, and possible bike lanes.

Something has to give.

“What we can’t accommodate is a 12-foot wide median in the center of the street,” says Paul Volpe, an architect and a member of the RTA board. “The median to me makes no sense.”

Other realities include the cost of maintenance, snow removal, and damage from road salt. What could emerge is a 4-foot wide hardscaped median separating the dedicated bus lanes in the center of the street. Volpe says the design doesn’t have to be the same for the whole length of Euclid Avenue, because the neighborhoods are different. Downtown, for instance, needs wide sidewalks. Farther east, on-street parking or bike lanes are options.

An RTA spokesman says any modifications must be in harmony with the approved Environmental Assessment. The next step is to receive final design approval from the Federal Transit Administration, which will provide much of the funding for the project.

Paul Volpe has had some reservations about the project in the past. But now, he says “I feel very good about it. My concerns as a board member, urban designer, and citizen are being addressed. It’s all coming together.”

(credit: RTA photo)
These new low-floor buses, now operating on RTA’s #6 line, are painted to promote the Euclid Corridor Transportation Project. When the project is completed in 2006, they will be replaced by high tech, 60-foot long, environmentally friendly vehicles.

From the start, the $220 million Euclid Corridor project was hailed for its urban renewal, as well as transportation, possibilities. Since it was first proposed, Cleveland’s only downtown department store has closed, and more small businesses have deserted what was once a bustling business district. Boarded-up storefronts on our main street have become an embarrassment to the “comeback city”.

Volpe says the Euclid Corridor project alone won’t revitalize downtown retailing, but he believes it will have an enormous effect for the good.

George Dixon, RTA board president, says several years have elapsed since the project was first proposed, and it’s now time to go back and re-educate people. Other board members say some opposition has developed from some small business owners who fear their businesses will be disrupted, from former supporters who have become disillusioned, and from people who consider it a boondoggle.

“Reed’s Read” has been covering the project for more than two years. We’ve raised some questions about it, but have avoided becoming either a cheerleader or a critic. Now, we’d like to hear your opinions. E-mail me at We won’t use your name, but would like to know your perspective, especially if you’re a transit rider or if you live, work, or own property along the route.

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Copyright 2002 Tom Reed