The Euclid Corridor Project: Unintended Consequences?
by Tom Reed
WMV Web News Cleveland
Story filed October 19, 2000

Euclid Avenue was once a great street, and it can be a great street again when the Euclid Corridor Transportation Project becomes a reality.

That’s the message from supporters of the of the plan to turn Euclid Avenue into a landscaped thoroughfare, with dedicated median lanes for trolley buses from Public Square to University Circle. This would leave only one lane in each direction for cars.

We can only hope that the project will not fall victim to what might be called the law of unintended consequences.

Consider the experience of Chicago. In 1979, State Street (“that great street”) was turned into a transit-only mall with trees, flowers, wider sidewalks, and bubble-topped bus shelters. The mall idea was in vogue in the 1970’s, and many American cities experimented with it. But instead of revitalizing State street, the opposite happened. Within a few years, Chicago realized it had made a mistake. In 1996, the mall was taken out, and the street was reopened to traffic.

Admittedly, this may seem like comparing apples to oranges. The ill-fated State Street mall banned ALL car traffic. The Euclid Corridor plan would merely limit it.

But wouldn’t even that cause traffic congestion? How would it affect business? How would motorists be able to drop off passengers at stores and theaters? What about stalled cars?

Jeri Chaikin, RTA’s project director for the Euclid Corridor, answered some of those questions in an interview after a recent environmental impact hearing at the Cleveland Public Library.

  • As for congestion, the parallel streets of Chester and Carnegie can handle the traffic.

  • In the early stages of planning in 1997 and 1998, studies indicated that the project wouldn’t adversely affect business.

  • There will be “curb cuts” to allow cars to drop off passengers at Playhouse Square, the Wyndham hotel, and some other places. There will also be some parking in curb cuts.

  • Drivers can get around a disabled car by using the bus lanes to pass it.
At the hearing, and at a recent City Club forum, business and civic leaders made it clear they see the Euclid Corridor project as more than just a way to transport people from one place to another. They see it as a way to revive a once-great street that, to put it charitably, has seen better days. Let’s hope they’re right.

What do you think of the proposal? We’d like to hear from you, particularly if you regularly travel Euclid Avenue by car or RTA, or if you work or have a business along the route. E-mail me at tomreed@multiverse.com. I won’t use your name without your express permission.

For more information about the Euclid Corridor Transportation Project, access the RTA web site and click on current projects.


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