From Jersey barriers to Raptors on Public Square

Nine of these retractable Raptors will be installed in Superior Avenue on each side of Public Square in downtown Cleveland. The Raptors will be kept in the down position most of the time but will be raised during special events. Also to be installed will be 60 bollards along the sides of Superior in the middle of the square (JCFO). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Public Square redesign gets Planning Commission OK

Out go the Jersey barriers. In come the Raptors.

That was the decision today by the Cleveland Planning Commission to redesign downtown’s Public Square from its 2016 redesign. In fact, the $3.5 million plan as approved would restore one aspect of the 2016 Public Square renovation which cost $50 million. That would be to restore the planned sharrows on both sides of Superior Avenue in the middle of the square. The approved redesign places 60 new bollards along the slimmed-down street which will remain bus-only through the square.

City officials said the plan provides visual and physical barriers to vehicles to increase safety, focuses bus traffic along Superior through the square, narrows and better protects pedestrians crossing Superior, and — yes — calls for the removal of the unsightly Jersey barriers.

“I appreciate the thorough and thoughtful work that the team put in to get this plan right,” said Mayor Justin Bibb in a written statement. “Public Square is the people‚Äôs park,
and this plan reflects that vision while prioritizing safety, function and aesthetics.”

The approved plan reserves two entry and exit lanes for buses and creates permanent curb extensions in the center of Public Square, narrowing the middle portion of the roadway to one lane in each direction to increase pedestrian safety while maintaining bus operations. The jersey barriers will be replaced by new security bollards that are aligned with the curb extensions to increase pedestrian space, delineate the roadway from the park, and restrict unauthorized vehicular access. The same bollards will be placed at strategic spots along the perimeter of Public Square as an enhanced safety measure.

Site plan of the approved changes to Public Square, with Terminal Tower’s shadow cast from the lower left (JCFO).

There will also be a new raised “tabletop” crosswalk — the first of its kind in Cleveland — in the center of the block to facilitate safe and intuitive pedestrian flow between the northern and southern portions of Public Square, and shared lane markings for bicyclists on Superior will be reintroduced. The plan approved today is a refined version of the plan considered by the commission in January, with modifications that included specific bollard placement and design detail.

Also new is the Superior Avenue special events closure plan, which includes nine retractable raptor bollards on either end of the Public Square section of Superior, at East Roadway and West Roadway, to close off the area to vehicular traffic for special events. The final plan is a product of more than a dozen small group coordinating sessions, multiple site visits, and careful review of eight design alternatives.

Now that the plan has been approved, the City will issue permits to the Group Plan Commission and contractor for work to begin. The custom bollards and raptors
will be ordered followed by barrier removal, curb replacement, signal upgrades, crosswalk removal and replacement, striping, and bollard installation. Pending the availability of materials, weather considerations, and previously scheduled Public Square events, work is expected to begin in late fall. The Group Plan Commission will continue to manage this process.

Planning and design for circulation improvements around the perimeter of Public Square — including a protected bikeway around the Square for cyclists that prefer not to ride in traffic — will occur as a separate phase of Public Square improvement work.

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