The Euclid Corridor Project: What's Ahead in 2004

by Tom Reed
WMV Web News Cleveland
Story filed February 2, 2004

2004 may be the year the public finally sees some tangible evidence that the Euclid Corridor Transportation Project is about to become a reality.

President Bush’s budget for the 2005 fiscal year includes $25 million to cover a full funding grant for the Euclid Corridor. Joe Calabrese, RTA’s CEO and general manager, says the news should assure Clevelanders that the project is a reality, adding “we plan to break ground in October.” The budget still must be approved by Congress. Earlier, Congress approved $13 million for the project in its 2004 spending bill.

RTA is now in the final stages of negotiations with a vendor for the purchase of buses, according to Michael Schipper, deputy general manager for engineering and project management. He hopes to present the proposal to the board at its February meeting.

RTA plans to order 21 of the new, 60-foot hybrid diesel-electric buses, to run in bus-only lanes along a reconstructed, landscaped, Euclid Avenue. The first visible step will be the groundbreaking this fall for the rehabilitation of some downtown streets. Major work is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2005, with completion expected in December of 2007.

That's the current timetable. Previous completion dates have proved elusive. A yellowing newspaper clipping from 1998, when the proposal called for trolley buses, quoted an RTA official as predicting the project would be completed by 2003. The date had slipped to mid 2005 by the time the first "Reed's Read" article on the subject was posted on this web site in September of 2000.

The project has evolved considerably since then. The trolley bus concept gave way to a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, using a new generation of high tech motor vehicles. Some related projects, while not abandoned, have been removed from the ECTP. So the current price tag of $188.4 million represents the cost of rebuilding Euclid Avenue and putting the new buses on it. This undoubtedly helped meet the federal guidelines for efficiency, based a formula in which the project cost (earlier estimated at $246 million) is divided by the hours of user benefits. At one time, the feds figured the project would cost $35 for each hour of rider time saved annually. The cost has now been brought down to under $25.

Federal funds are expected to pay nearly 49% of the total, the rest coming from the state of Ohio, the RTA, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), and the city of Cleveland. RTA is hoping that the Federal Transit Administration will approve the full funding grant by late this summer.

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Copyright 2004 Tom Reed