Cleveland, Ohio/Euclid Corridor Improvement Project

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Euclid Corridor Improvement Project

Cleveland, Ohio

(November 1999)

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Description

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) is proposing to design and construct a 9.8-mile transit corridor incorporating exclusive bus rapid transit lanes and related capital improvements on Euclid Avenue from Public Square in downtown Cleveland east to University Circle. The proposed project is known as the Euclid Corridor Improvement Project (ECIP). The ECIP incorporates a series of transit improvements including an exclusive center median busway along Euclid Avenue from Public Square to University Circle, improvements to East 17th/East 18th Streets, as well as a "Transit Zone" on St. Clair and Superior Avenues utilizing exclusive transit lanes. The proposed busway will provide service to the University Circle area and continue into the City of East Cleveland, terminating at the Stokes/Windermere Rapid Transit Station. GCRTA proposes to operate sixty-foot articulated electric trolley buses (ETB) with both left and right-hand side doors for access and egress of patrons on the corridor. The ETBs will have access to the entire length of the proposed corridor. However, conventional buses will not be able to access Euclid Avenue in the CBD. Total capital costs for the ECIP are estimated at $220 million (escalated dollars). GCRTA estimates that 29,500 average weekday boardings will use the ECIP in the forecast year (2025).

The proposed "Transit Zone" will be bounded by Superior Avenue, St. Clair Avenue, West 3rd Street and East 18th Street. The Transit Zone will facilitate the distribution of traffic by conveniently locating bus stops for both eastbound and westbound routes to allow easier transfers between cross-town bus routes. The improvements to E.17th/E.18th Streets are anticipated to facilitate traffic flows into and out of the Transit Zone that will also function as north/south arterial roads connecting Euclid Avenue to St. Clair/Superior Avenues. East 17th Street will be limited to transit and local auto traffic north of Euclid Avenue. E. 17th Street will be extended from Prospect Avenue one block south for buses only. East 18th Street will carry auto traffic only between the inner belt and the northern edge of the CBD.

Summary Description

Proposed Project:

Bus Rapid Transit Lanes (7.34 miles – exclusive, 2.43 miles – mixed traffic) and related capital improvements

Total Capital Cost ($YOE):

$220.0 million

Section 5309 New Starts Share ($YOE):

$135.0 million

Annual Operating Cost ($YOE):

$1.3 million

Ridership Forecast (2025):

29,500 average weekday boardings

2,400 daily new riders

FY 2001 Financial Rating:

Medium-High

FY 2001 Project Justification Rating:

Medium

FY 2001 Overall Project Rating:

Recommended

The Recommended rating is based on the project’s strong transit-supportive land use qualities and the strength of the project’s capital and operating plans. The overall project rating applies to this Annual New Starts Report and reflects conditions as of November 1999. Project evaluation is an ongoing process. As new starts projects proceed through development, the estimates of costs, benefits, and impacts are refined. The FTA ratings and recommendations will be updated to reflect new information, changing conditions, and refined financing plans.

Status

Section 3035 of ISTEA authorized FTA to enter into a multiyear grant agreement for development of the Dual Hub Corridor, originally considered as a rail link between downtown and University Circle. In November 1995, the GCRTA Board of Trustees selected the ECIP as the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) which included a busway and the rehabilitation and relocation of several existing rapid rail stations. In December 1995, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (local Metropolitan Planning Organization) adopted a resolution supporting the ECIP. In mid-1999, GCRTA reconfigured the scope of the ECIP to incorporate only the construction of a busway along Euclid Avenue. The rapid rail elements have been eliminated from the ECIP proposal for Section 5309 New Starts funding. The environmental review process is scheduled for completion in Spring 2000.

Section 3030(a)(17) of TEA-21 authorized the "Euclid Corridor Extension" for final design and construction. Through FY 2000, Congress has appropriated $9.49 million in Section 5309 New Starts funds for the Euclid Corridor Improvement Project. Of this amount, $4.72 million was rescinded or reprogrammed by Congress.

Evaluation

The following criteria have been estimated in conformance with FTA’s Technical Guidance on Section 5309 New Starts Criteria. With concurrence from FTA, a comparison to a TSM alternative was not completed. N/A indicates that data are not available for a specific measure.

FTA has evaluated this project as being in preliminary engineering. The project will be re-evaluated when it is ready to advance to final design and for next year’s Annual Report on New Starts.

Justification

The Medium project justification rating reflects the strength of the transit-supportive land use attributes and the anticipated travel time savings benefits associated with the project, but acknowledges its relatively poor cost-effectiveness in terms of new riders.

Mobility Improvements

Rating: Medium-High

GCRTA estimates 29,500 average weekday boardings, including 2,400 daily new riders, on the ECIP busway in 2025. GCRTA estimates the following annual travel time savings for the ECIP:

 

Mobility Improvements

New Start vs.

No-Build

New Start vs. TSM

Annual Travel Time Savings (Hours)

1.0 million

N/A

Based on 1990 census data, there are an estimated 12,406 low-income households within a ½ mile radius of the 22 proposed stations. This represents 55 percent of the total households within a ½ mile radius of the proposed stations.

Environmental Benefits

Rating: Medium

Cleveland is currently classified as a maintenance nonattainment area for ozone and a moderate nonattainment area for particulate matter (PM10). GCRTA estimates the following emission reductions for the ECIP as compared to the No-Build alternative.

 

Criteria Pollutant

New Start vs.

No-Build

New Start vs. TSM

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

71

N/A

Nitrogen Oxide (NOx)

23

N/A

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

19

N/A

Particulate Matter (PM10)

1

N/A

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

8,481

N/A

Values reflect annual tons of emission reductions.

GCRTA estimates that the ECIP will result in the following decrease in regional energy consumption (measured in British Thermal Units – BTUs) compared to the No-Build alternative.

 

Annual Energy Savings

New Start vs.

No-Build

New Start vs. TSM

BTU (millions)

76,146

N/A

Values reflect annual BTU reductions.

Operating Efficiencies

Rating: Medium

GCRTA estimates the following systemwide operating costs per passenger mile in the year 2025 for the New Start compared to the No-Build alternative:

 

No-Build

TSM

New Start

System Operating Cost per Passenger Mile (YOE)

$0.63

N/A

$0.63

Values reflect 2025 ridership forecast and YOE dollars.

Cost Effectiveness

Rating: Low

GCRTA estimates the following cost effectiveness index:

 

New Start vs.

No-Build

New Start vs.

TSM

Incremental Cost per Incremental Passenger

$26.90

N/A

ValuesValues reflect 2025 ridership forecast and YOE dollars.

Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

Rating: Medium-High

The Medium-High land use rating reflects the strong existing land use and high trip generators in the Euclid Avenue Corridor, and the transit-supportive policies within the Cleveland central business district (CBD).

Existing Conditions: The downtown area adjacent to Euclid Avenue includes high-density commercial uses (office and retail), a theater district, a State office complex, the campus of Cleveland State University, and the Gateway Sports complex (20,000- seat arena and 42,000 seat ballpark). Several institutional uses are located in University Circle, including Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic Foundation. In addition, several cultural uses are also located in the University Circle area, including the Cleveland Art Institute, Art Museum, Cleveland Botanical Gardens and the Natural Science History Museum. Multi-family and single-family housing is located one to two blocks away from Euclid Avenue throughout the corridor.

1995 Cleveland CBD employment was estimated at 121,900 and is projected to decline slightly to 118,600 in 2025 (10.2 and 9.5 percent of metropolitan employment, respectively). CBD employment density is roughly 70 jobs per acre. Total employment in the Euclid Avenue Corridor is estimated at 207,000 (17 percent of regional employment). In 1995, total population within ½ mile of Euclid Avenue was estimated 41,000, with an average density of 7,400 persons per square mile. Population within the Euclid Avenue Corridor is forecast to increase by 10 percent (from 41,400 to 45,400), with density increasing to 8,100 persons per square mile. Evidence of reversal of previous downward trends is supported by recent increases in residential development in the Cleveland CBD and in the Fairfax and Church Square areas. Total corridor employment is expected to increase by 6 percent over this period.

Future Plans and Policies: A number of organizations and institutions have formed or adopted positions to support reinvestment in fully developed communities and existing infrastructure. These include the First Suburbs Consortium, elected representatives of ten mature inner-ring communities that are advocating a re-examination of public policies and investments; the Federation for Community Planning, an advocacy group for human and social service agencies; the Cleveland Area Board of Realtors; the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland; and Eco City Cleveland, a non-profit educational organization that recently led an outreach project to develop a "bioregional plan."

Other Factors

FTA BRT Demonstration Program: In August 1999, the Cleveland ECIP was selected as one of FTA’s ten Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Demonstration Projects. FTA’s BRT Demonstration Program is intended to foster the development of BRT systems in the United States; address BRT planning, implementation, and operational issues; and evaluate system performance in a wide range of operating environments.

Economic Development: The Cleveland area’s business community recently put together the Cleveland Civic Vision and Beyond 2000 Plan. The plan calls for rezoning of the corridor to convert industrial areas to office uses, and to consolidate commercial and residential areas and eliminate spot-zoning while still allowing mixed-use activities. In addition, an Economic Development Plan for the Euclid Avenue Corridor was developed in April 1999, which includes numerous recommendations, including parking mitigation, tax increment financing and redevelopment incentives. The Euclid Avenue Revitalization Plan (May 1998) - a privately commissioned study - focuses on ways to revitalize retail activity along Euclid Avenue in the CBD. A set of Streetscape Urban Design Guidelines has also been developed for the ECIP.

Local Financial Commitment

Proposed Non-Section 5309 Share of Total Project Costs: 39%

The financial plan for the proposed Euclid Corridor Improvement Project includes

$135 million (61 percent) in Section 5309 New Starts funds, $50 million (23 percent) in Section 5307 Formula funds and $35 million (16 percent) in GCRTA/City of Cleveland funds.

Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan

Rating: Medium-High

The Medium-High rating reflects the sound financial condition of GCRTA and the State of Ohio’s financial commitment to the ECIP.

Agency Capital Financial Condition: The GCRTA is in good financial condition and is currently paying down debt incurred earlier in the 1990s to build the existing Waterfront light rail extension project. In addition, the agency’s major funding source (sales tax revenues)

continues to grow at a faster than estimated rate solidifying the agency’s current financial viability.

Capital Cost Estimates and Contingencies: Adequate cost estimates, escalation rates and contingency factors have been developed for the proposed Euclid Avenue busway project.

Existing and Committed Funding: At this time, 80 percent ($68 million) of non-Section 5309 New Starts funding has been committed to the proposed project via the Ohio DOT’s Transportation Review Advisory Commission and GCRTA. GCRTA proposes that the City of Cleveland would provide $17 million of funding towards the project; however, this funding is not yet committed. The City of Cleveland and the GCRTA are currently working on an interagency agreement that will outline the City’s financial contribution to the proposed ECIP. This action is scheduled for completion in March 2000.

New and Proposed Sources: Only existing sources are proposed for the construction of the ECIP. No new sources are needed.

Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan

Rating: Medium-High

The Medium-High rating reflects the healthy operating condition of GCRTA. Revenues to operate the proposed ECIP are considered strong.

Agency Operating Condition: The GCRTA has managed to fully fund the operations of its existing system during a period of expansion. In 1997, ridership increased by 4 percent over 1996. Both bus and rail ridership increased for the first time since 1990. The increased ridership is attributed to special events in downtown Cleveland and a generally improved regional economy. The regional economy has experienced moderate growth that has generated sufficient sales tax revenue to cover both operations and expansion costs.

Operating Cost Estimates and Contingencies: Annual operating and maintenance costs - estimated at $1.3 million (escalated dollars) - are considered reasonable. However, it should be noted that while the proposed project replaces existing bus service along Euclid Avenue with electric trolley buses (ETB), the increased operation and maintenance costs associated with the ETBs is anticipated to be covered by existing sources.

Existing and Committed Funding: The entire project’s proposed operating costs currently exist. Documentation provided by GCRTA illustrates sufficient financial capacity to cover both operating and capital costs associated with the ECIP. Assumptions included in the 20-year cash flow analysis are based on historic funding levels and growth rates that appear to be reasonable. These funds are considered stable and reliable.

New and Proposed Sources: All proposed operating revenue sources are already in existence. No new sources are needed.

 

 

 

Locally Proposed Financing Plan

(Reported in $YOE)

 

Proposed Source of Funds

Total Funding ($million)

 

Appropriations to Date

Federal:    
  Section 5309 New Starts

135.0

($9.49 million appropriated through FY 2000. $4.72 million rescinded or reprogrammed).
       
  Local:

Toll Revenue Credits

50.0

 
       
  GCRTA

18.0

 
       
  City of Cleveland

17.0

 
       
 

TOTAL

$220.0

 
NOTE: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions. Totals may not add due to rounding.

Euclid Corridor Improvements Project (map)