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NOACA's Long-Range Plan Looking At Transportation Aspirations For 2045

NOACA hosted the conference at the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum, alongside a sponsored exhibit on fuel sources. [Taylor Haggerty / ideastream]
Grace Gallucci standing behind a podium with a PowerPoint slide reading "Welcome"

The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) is looking for ways to strengthen regional transportation networks across five counties with its next Long-Range Transportation Plan.

It covers the preservation of current transportation infrastructure and creation of a more sustainable system over the next 20 years in Cuyahoga, Lorain, Lake, Geauga and Medina counties.

The new plan still in its early phases, said NOACA Executive Director Grace Gallucci Tuesday at a conference launching the new plan. The agency is gathering input on what stakeholders and residents want to see through 2020 and put out a preliminary plan early next year.

“From Amish buggy trails to the Hyperloop, our region has a lot of opportunity and needs to have a lot of discussion about what we need and what we want over the next 20 years,” Gallucci said.

The agency estimates having about $1 billion to work with every year, Gallucci said, but that amount isn’t enough to cover every project and goal. One of the primary issues is preservation of existing infrastructure, and current repair and maintenance already stand at about $2 billion, she said.

“By preserve, we just mean bringing it up to a state of good repair,” Gallucci said. “We’re not even saying excellent, we’re just saying good.”

But preserving has to compete with improvements and changes, she said. One potential improvement project is the so-called Hyperloop connecting Cleveland with Chicago and Pittsburgh using a new kind of train. NOACA released a feasibility study for the Hyperloop concept in December, and has extended the public comment period through March 30.

“We at this point feel and have confirmation that we’re the furthest along than any other Hyperloop study in the world,” Gallucci said. “We want to stay at that forefront. If there’s going to be a pilot, we want the pilot to be here.”

The new study’s other considerations include autonomous and electric vehicles, climate change and environmental justice. The updated plan will look ahead to 2045.

NOACA released a similar plan roughly four years ago that outlined goals and plans through 2040. Since that plan was released, Gallucci said the group has made headway on several regional goals, most notably the Signal Timing Operation Program (STOP).

STOP aims to ease congestion with more accurately timed traffic lights. Since 2017, STOP has optimized six corridors, Gallucci said, including 171 traffic lights across 13 communities. Efforts to ease congestion along Chester Avenue using the program were announced in the State of the County Address last year, with a price tag of more than $500,000. Results from that work will be released soon, Gallucci said.