The Federal Transit Administration has sent a letter requesting the repayment of $12 million from the Cleveland RTA. The request comes after bus services were taken off Superior Avenue in downtown Cleveland as part of the Public Square redevelopment.
The letter states that the RTA is in “breach of a grant agreement” from 2004 and that they have 30 days from December 20th to pay back the $12 million. The FTA had warned the RTA and the City of Cleveland in previous letters that there would be consequences if Superior Avenue did not open to traffic after its renovations were complete. As per the 2004 grant agreement, a “bus rapid transit line along Euclid Avenue would end in Public Square,” according to cleveland.com. In a press conference in mid-November, Cleveland’s Mayor Frank Jackson and RTA Manager Joe Calabrese alluded to the square staying closed.
The street was originally set to reopen in August but remained closed as the city and the RTA discussed possible options for the street. In the past, the square was been divided into quadrants, with Superior bisecting the park. As part of the park’s renovation, Superior was designed as a bus-only street. The city and the RTA have yet to announce whether the street will remain closed permanently, or whether there is a timeline to reopen it.
The $50 million overall renovation of the Public Square was recently completed. The 10-acre park was designed by James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) with a small café designed by New York-based nARCHITECTS with local architects Westlake Reed Leskosky. The new park is being seen as a boon for the revitalization of the downtown, and a major step in connecting the city’s public spaces to Lake Erie.