Superior Ave at Public Square Closing Causes Increased Safety & Security Risks, Study Concludes

Commander Harold Pretel at podium [Annie Wu / ideastream]
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Closing Superior Avenue through Public Square in downtown Cleveland has caused increased risk to RTA buses, pedestrians and cars in the area.  That's the conclusion of a safety study commissioned by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority after the Mayor's office and RTA agreed to keep the road closed following the Republican National Convention. 

A separate traffic study conducted by Parsons Brinckerhoff finds that travel time for buses around Public Square can be reduced by 72 seconds during morning rush hour and 60 seconds during afternoon peak travel time if Superior is open for buses.  It would also save RTA more than $800,000 in annual operating costs.  

The traffic study also looked at a second scenario: Superior remains closed and traffic lights at 16 intersections would be semi-actuated.  That option would reduce bus travel time by 20 seconds in the morning and 27 seconds in the evening as well as $223,000 in RTA annual operating costs.

The safety study conducted by K & J Consulting also concludes Public Square is vulnerable to terrorism whether Superior is open or closed and recommends further study by local and federal agencies.

"I think the one major point that’s important was if there was a major event around Public Square like the tree lighting, like the Fourth of July – the plan always was that it would be at that point in time closed to RTA buses and secured on the perimeters," says RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese.

RTA provided a summary of conclusions from each study.  Cleveland city officials say they have yet to receive the full safety study, and they are not convinced the city's security and mitigation concerns have been adequately addressed. 

Commander Harold Pretel is Cleveland’s in-house homeland security expert.  He’s scheduled to meet with RTA and the study consultants on Wednesday afternoon.

"It would be irresponsible to move forward and just open the Square without addressing any of those potential threats and our vulnerability and without discussing any mitigation strategies," says Pretel.

RTA could owe the federal government $12 million for violating the terms of a transit grant if Superior Avenue is not re-opened by February 21st.

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