Committee for Transit-Oriented Design proposes 'livable' Innerbelt

The Committee for Transit-Oriented Design (cTOD) was formed in 1995 by local planning advocates and concerned citizens who identified a need to build livable communities and expand transportation choices with a fine-grain approach to land use and transportation planning. In a transit-oriented approach to development, the automobile is still regarded as an element of the transportation mix, but no longer as the sole important one.

Recognizing that transportation investments influence future land-use decisions, the committee weighed in on the Innerbelt project and its potential for improving connections to city neighborhoods and Cleveland's central business district.

The following letter was written by Mandy Metcalf, a member of cTOD, and was sent to David Goss, co-chair, Innerbelt Scoping Committee on September 23, 2002.

Dear Mr. Goss:

This letter should replace the one sent I sent to you dated June 23, 2002 on behalf of the Committee for Transit Oriented Design (cTOD). It reflects changes resulting from the cTOD's further discussion, and better understanding, of the Innerbelt Study.

The Cleveland Innerbelt Study will identify a strategy to develop an efficient and effective transportation system in the Innerbelt Corridor. The existing transportation infrastructure in the Innerbelt Corridor is approaching the end of its useful life, the operational performance of the Innerbelt is poor, and the existing system configuration does not provide efficient traffic movement. The Innerbelt Study is intended to evaluate investment in bus and rail service and infrastructure as well as investment in the highway system.

The Committee for Transit-Oriented Design (cTOD) urges the community to make transit-oriented design a top priority when considering investment in the Innerbelt Corridor. Transit-oriented design creates livable places that offer many convenient transportation choices. Transit becomes a convenient choice when medium and high density mixed uses are concentrated in a pedestrian-friendly environment, within walking distance of bus and rail stops. This is accomplished by the coordination of land use planning, urban design, and transit investment.

Transit-oriented design is a strategy that will help meet the transportation needs identified in the Innerbelt Study. It reduces the need for additional highway capacity by taking traffic off roads, and improves the efficiency of existing and future transit infrastructure. It offers an alternative to traffic tie-ups and long commute times.

Transit-oriented design also works to implement the draft Innerbelt Study goals identified by the Neighborhood Planning Committee. Places that support transit infrastructure and make riding transit a viable choice are places that are dense, walkable, pleasant, lively, and safe. Transit-oriented design will revitalize urban areas by improving existing housing and transportation options.

One of the greatest advantages to living in a city should be the choice to walk or ride transit. A commitment to transit-oriented design will help make Cleveland's quality of life competitive with other cities. At cTOD, we believe that a transit-oriented city is an economically competitive, environmentally sustainable city.

Communities around the country have recognized the importance of transit-oriented design by creating transportation agency departments focused on transit-oriented development, and by setting aside money for land use planning for areas around transit stations.

We support the Transit/HOV improvement concepts proposed by the Cleveland Innerbelt Study, and make the following recommendations and concept elaboration.

Overall recommendations:

At least twenty percent of funding for Innerbelt Corridor improvements should be devoted to investment in transit service and transit infrastructure, in addition to the existing provisions of RTA's capital and operating budgets.

Approximately two percent of Innerbelt Corridor funding should be committed to the funding of transit-supportive land use planning within the Innerbelt project area. Coordinating responsibility could be given to NOACA, GCRTA, or an independent entity.

Specific recommendations:

  • Assure ongoing funding to RTA that allows an increase in the frequency of service on the west side Red Line to at least every six minutes during peak hours when Innerbelt reconstruction is underway.
  • Invest in rail transit improvements, including improved freeway access to/from the Puritas and Triskett Park-and-Ride Lots.
  • Create and implement station area plans for areas within walking distance of all Rapid stations.
  • Invest in commuter bus service improvements, including enhanced service levels to/from key park and ride lots like Solon and North Olmsted.
  • Prioritize local bus transit improvements within the Innerbelt project area, including frequency of service and waiting environment improvements at key bus stops.
  • Plan for the possible conversion of the Shoreway into a Lakefront Boulevard in such a way that facilitates the growth of transit-oriented neighborhoods, and takes full advantage of public investment.

The Cleveland Innerbelt Study gives Northeast Ohio the opportunity to chart a competitive course for its future by including transit-oriented design as part of a comprehensive transportation strategy. We appreciate the opportunity to offer our suggestions and we look forward to a successful outcome to this important project.

Supporting Members

  • American Institute of ArchitectsCleveland
  • City of Cleveland Heights
  • Cleveland Neighborhood Development Corporation
  • Coventry Village Special Improvement District
  • EcoCity Cleveland
  • The George Gund Foundation
  • Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
  • Kent State University Urban Design Collaborative
  • Paran Management
  • University Circle Incorporated

*Organizations are listed for identification purposes only

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