Study Group Believes Cleveland-Akron Rail Link Not Worth Investment

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A transportation planning group has decided not to support a rail commuter system to link Cleveland, Akron and eventually Canton.

The governing board of the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study voted Wednesday to adopt a consultant's recommendations for highway improvements but not for a commuter rail line.

Transportation planners in Cuyahoga and Stark counties also must vote on the recommendations.

The study of transportation needs in the Interstate 77 corridor through 2025 was necessary before federal money could be committed.

A Cleveland consulting firm, Parsons Brinckerhoff, recommended that northeast Ohio consider a commuter rail line between Akron and Cleveland, along with $629 million in highway improvements to reduce traffic congestion. The firm spent three years on the $2.5 million study, which was funded with federal and state money.

Supporters, including Summit County Executive James B. McCarthy, have said a rail line would give commuters another transportation choice and might curb urban sprawl by promoting downtown business in Cleveland and Akron and by orienting residential development around several stations between the two cities.

The consultant's draft report revealed the rail line would attract few riders at a cost of $170 million and would not reduce traffic congestion in the I-77 corridor.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)