Lorain Road corridor wins transit planning grant

Clifton Boulevard in Lakewood and Cleveland’s Edgewater neighborhood has dedicated bus lanes during rush hours only. Euclid Avenue from Downtown Cleveland to University Circle has dedicated bus lines 24 hours a day. A mix of these conditions may be developed on Lorain Avenue from Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood, through Fairview Park and North Olmsted to near the Lorain County line with transit-oriented development supported along the way (Cuyahoga County Planning Commission). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Cleveland, Fairview Park, North Olmsted affected


In a continuing effort to create more affordable housing and transportation choices for Americans, the Biden-Harris Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) yesterday announced $17.6 million in grants going to 20 communities in 16 states to support equitable Transit-Oriented Development (TOD). Greater Cleveland was among those communities.

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) will receive $700,000 to plan for TOD along the proposed Lorain Road Corridor, a multi-modal planning project that will incorporate bus rapid transit with GCRTA’s existing rail rapid transit system. The planning project will look at proposed bike infrastructure, pedestrian access, better connecting to jobs and activities on Cleveland’s West Side, the FTA said.

With funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, FTA says its Pilot Program for TOD Planning is helping communities develop local plans to encourage ridership by developing housing and businesses near transit corridors. GCRTA, Cuyahoga County and three municipalities — Cleveland, Fairview Park and North Olmsted — are seeking enhanced bus services along Lorain.

Cleveland neighborhoods affected are Ohio City, Detroit-Shoreway, Westown, Jefferson and West Park-Kamms. The Lorain corridor connects with GCRTA’s Airport-Downtown-Windermere Red Line rail transit at three train stations — West Park, West 65th-Lorain and Ohio City. Planning work should kick-off early next year and take about a year to complete, said Max Upton, North Olmsted’s director of economic and community development.

Community planners from Cuyahoga County, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority and three cities — Cleveland, Fairview Park and North Olmsted — have mapped out a potential bus rapid transit corridor on Lorain Road. The bus rapid transit route, if implemented, would be the longest yet in the county (GCRTA).

Like existing bus rapid transit (BRT) routes such as Clifton Boulevard and Euclid Avenue, or planned routes on West 25th Street and Broadway Avenue, Lorain could gain dedicated bus lanes, priority traffic signals for transit vehicles and enhanced waiting environments to speed up and spruce up transit transit services. Planning and supporting transit-friendly development like dense, mixed-uses around transit is the goal of the FTA grant.

“It (Lorain) is a long corridor with different jurisdictions so TOD and BRT will have different looks and feels as it goes through that corridor,” Upton said. “Talk about the stars aligning — no pun intended with the eclipse coming. You have (General Manager) India (Birdsong Terry) at RTA, (Executive) Chris (Ronayne) at (Cuyahoga) County, Mayor (Nicole Dailey) Jones (in North Olsmted), (Cleveland Mayor Justin) Bibb in the core city. These are new leaders looking at this in a regional lens. They brought it all together.”

For the first time with the awards announced yesterday, each of the selected projects has an affordable housing component and will require no local matching funds to promote equity and housing affordability nationwide. Thus GCRTA was able to win the full amount of grant money necessary to carry out the planning. Once those plans are complete, it can then apply for federal funds to build infrastructure.

“We are proud to help another 20 communities develop plans to add affordable housing near public transit,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a written statement. “This is an important part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to increase access to opportunity and bring down costs for families.”

Cuyahoga County and the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority have identified 22 existing transit corridors in which transit oriented development should be supported and encouraged to increase community investment, transit ridership, walking and bicycle use. Lorain Road, ending at far left, is among them (Cuyahoga County Planning Commission).

This is the second round of TOD planning grants since the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and will help more transit agencies make lasting changes in their communities by setting the stage for future development and jobs creation. GCRTA also won a grant in the first round, too, securing $432,000 to develop plans to redesign the Broadway corridor from the Turney-Ella bus loop near Calvary Cemetery to Downtown Cleveland.

“Transportation and housing are the two biggest costs for most Americans,” said FTA Acting Administrator Veronica Vanterpool. “Today, we are delivering funding that will help create affordable places to live, while bringing down the costs of transportation for the people who live there. For communities all over the country that struggle to find extra funds for federal grants, this should be a message: if you are building good projects well, you will have the support of this administration.”

Planning projects were selected for funding based on criteria described in the Notice of Funding Opportunity, which also marked the second time that applicants were asked to prioritize TOD in areas with high incidence rates of homelessness.

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides a total of $68.9 million in funding for the TOD Planning Program through 2026, a 38 percent increase over the prior five years of funding. Since 2015, FTA has provided approximately $122 million in federal support to fund TOD planning activities.


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