RTA hopes to reopen Public Square to bus traffic by March 6

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The CEO of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority said Tuesday that the agency hopes to reopen Public Square to bus traffic by March 6, one day before a federal deadline to reopen or pay a $12 million fine.

The Federal Transit Administration has called the two-week extension a "final" one.

"I think we're working very hard with the city, we're hoping to open the square on March 6, that's the date I have in my mind, that's the day before the extension expires," said GCRTA CEO Joe Calabrese.

On Monday, the GCRTA ran buses down Superior, through Public Square, to assess how public transit would work if some barriers had to remain up permanently or semi-permanently.

"We're talking about different barriers in terms of from a security perspective, and turning radius, you can look at turning radius of buses but you really need to operate buses out and see what the clearances are and we did that yesterday. I think a lot was learned. The city was going back to do some more calculations do some more research," said Calabrese.

Calabrese stressed that safety and security is everyone's concern. He also said that in order to get the two-week extension, the GCRTA had to outline what they would do with the additional time the feds gr anted them.

A letter from the FTA, date stamped Friday, gr anted a "final extension" to March 7 so the city of Cleveland and the GCRTA can further talk about safety and traffic studies.

The letter from the FTA specifically mentioned Mayor Frank Jackson's two prong test to reopen Public Square, showing that buses can operate safely through the Square, and showing that the GCRTA would be financially adversely affected by the closure.

Cleveland 19 reached out to the city to see if they had any updated response.

A spokesman for the city, Dan Williams, said Tuesday "As we have stated previously the city is involved in the process of dealing with operational and financial issues as well as addressing the safety and security concerns. That's what we're focused on now."

City officials have conceded that the closure would affect the GCRTA's bottom line. Terrorism and safety were still brought up as concerns as recently as last week.

The FTA states that if the Square reopens that would nullify the debt. The FTA has said previously that the closure of Public Square to buses violated a federal gr ant agreement that awarded money to pay for the Euclid Corridor project, now known as the HealthLine.

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