getting where we want to be
EcoCity transportation program manager Ryan McKenzie provides news and commentary on what's happening to improve transportation choices in Northeast Ohio and at state & national levels. Get updates on road policies, transit, bicycling, walking, freight, and other transport-related topics, all viewed from EcoCity's sustainability perspective.
"Active Transportation" campaign
Each month, several individuals, worksites, schools and communities are recognized for using, facilitating or promiting the use of active modes of transportation.
The organizers of the site encourage people to submit their own stories and photos, and are offering prizes of gear and apparel related to each month's theme.
Congress debating Amtrak funding
Rep. LaTourette deserves praise and thanks for stepping in to preserve what little intercity passenger service the Cleveland area currently offers.
The House of Representatives is now debating the FY'06 Transportation/Treasury Appropriations bill (H.R. 3058) where Amtrak funding is the priority concern for our coalition. The pending bill proposed $550 million for Amtrak for the upcoming fiscal year, a level of funding which effectively terminates the nationâs intercity passenger rail system.
Later today or tomorrow morning, Representatives Reps. Steven LaTourette (R-OH) and James Oberstar (D-MN) will offer an amendment to restore Amtrak's funding level to current spending or about $1.2 billion. The amendment proposes an array of offsets in the bill to pay for the increase in Amtrak funding.
Please contact House offices immediately to urge support for the LaTourette/Oberstar amendment. In contacting these offices, also urge support for an amendment by Corinne Brown (D-FL) that strikes language in the bill prohibiting Amtrak from funding certain routes. (Below is an analysis that shows the routes that would be discontinued under the Committee-approved spending restrictions.) You can contact your House Members by calling 202/225-3121 and asking for your Representativeâs office.
June 29, 2005
TRANSPORTATION-TREASURY APPROPRIATIONS BILL
ELIMINATES 18 AMTRAK ROUTES
In addition to funding Amtrak at shutdown levels, the FY2006 Transportation-Treasury Appropriations bill specifically eliminates 15 long distance trains and three shorter distance routes, some of which provide essential transportation services to rural areas.
o RT16A and RT19 and RT48: Silver Service/Silver Meteor/Palmetto from New York to Miami via Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Richmond, Charleston, SC, Savannah, Jacksonville, Tampa, and Ft. Lauderdale. Serves 738,241 passengers.
o RT 18: Cardinal from Washington to Chicago via Huntington, WV, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis. Serves 88,930 passengers.
o RT22: Wolverine between Pontiac and Chicago. Serves 366,291 passengers.
o RT25: Empire Builder between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest to Seattle or Portland. Serves 437,191 passengers.
o RT26: Capitol Limited from Washington to Chicago via Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Toledo. Serves 180,810 passengers.
o RT27: California Zephyr from Chicago to Oakland via Omaha, Lincoln, Denver, Salt Lake City, Reno, and Sacramento. Serves 335,764 passengers.
o RT28: Southwest Chief from Chicago to Los Angeles via Kansas City, Topeka, Albuquerque, and Flagstaff. Serves 290,003 passengers.
o RT30: City of New Orleans from Chicago to New Orleans via Memphis. Serves 190,017 passengers.
o RT32: Texas Eagle from Chicago to Los Angeles via Springfield, St. Louis, Little Rock, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Tucson. Serves 234,619 passengers.
o RT33: Sunset Limited Orlando to Los Angeles via Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Pensacola, Mobile, New Orleans, Houston, San Antonio, and Tucson. Serves 96,426 passengers.
o RT34: Coast Starlight from Seattle to Los Angeles via Portland, Eugene, Sacramento, San Jose and Santa Barbara. Serves 415,598 passengers.
o RT45: Lake Short Ltd from New York to Chicago via Albany, Syracuse, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Toledo. Serves 279,662 passengers.
o RT52: Crescent from New York to New Orleans via Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Greensboro, Charlotte, Greenville, Atlanta, and Birmingham. Serves 256,577 passengers.
o RT54: Hoosier State from Chicago to Indianapolis. Serves 17,934 passengers.
o RT63: Auto Train, which takes the passenger and their vehicle nonstop from Lorton, Virginia to Florida. Serves 197,483 passengers.
o RT66: Carolinian from Charlotte and New York City, with stops in Raleigh, Richmond, Washington, DC, Baltimore and Philadelphia. Serves 305,016 passengers.
A map of these routes is attached, showing the 23 states that would lose all service if this amendment is not adopted. According to the Department of Transportation's Inspector General, eliminating all long-distance routes will only save $300 million for Amtrak, and those savings would not come in the first year due to mandatory labor compensation. Mandatory labor compensation for elimination of these routes is about $360 million, well over half of the $550 million provided in the FY2006 Transportation-Treasury Appropriations bill. Don't leave 4,430,562 waiting for the train!
Support the Brown-Menendez-Rahall amendment to keep these Amtrak trains on-track!
Nick J. Rahall, II
Members of Congress
Ohio Recretational Trails Plan
ODNR has published the first state trails plan for Ohio since the mid-1970's "as a tool for improving existing trails in the state and to guide the smart planning of future trails."
The plan is available at www.ohiodnr.com/trailsplan
Rush hour bike restrictions questioned for RTA rail
ClevelandBikes would at least like to see the restriction lifted for near-empty trains travelling in the non-peak direction (i.e. - away from downtown in the morning, and toward downtown in the evening), if not a total elimination of the rush hour ban.
ClevelandBikes points out that most jobs in the county are now in the suburbs, where land use patterns are often hostile to transit and walking. They say that RTA's current bike/train policy works against reverse commuters from the central city who are trying to access those jobs, many of which are in basic manufacturing and service (i.e. - low wages) . They contend that the transit + bike combination can be particularly effective in travelling the last mile or two from suburban station exit to employer entrance.
"By opening up RTA for cyclists in an unrestricted way, you expand the range of an RTA passenger, who can cover many miles in ten minutes and still get to work, rather than walking or waiting for a shuttle bus (assuming an employer provides one) from the final RTA suburban stop."
For the record -- as of 2003 [data & commentary from George Zeller of CEOGC]:
752,272 jobs in Cuyahoga County
278,456 of them are located in the city of Cleveland (37%)
while the other 473,816 are in the suburbs.
"Strangely enough, and little known to most people is the fact that a large majority of the high wage manufacturing jobs in Cuyahoga County are also located out in the suburbs. Of the 93,173 manufacturing jobs that we still have left, only 29,525 of them are located in the city of Cleveland. Thus, only 32% of our manufacturing jobs are in Cleveland, with the other 68% being located out in the suburbs.
Of the 659,099 non-manufacturing jobs in Cuyahoga County, only 248,931 of them are in the city of Cleveland. Thus, 38% of our nonmanufacturing jobs are in the city of Cleveland, with the other 62% located out in the suburbs."
[employment data & commentary from George Zeller of CEOGC]
ODOT studying a new Innerbelt Bridge
At a project meeting in February, the ODOT consultants dismissed the idea, saying that a new span couldn't be built without taking down Tremont's iconic Greek Orthodox church (a political non-starter). But community groups and County officials pressed for a more detailed study, citing a wide variety of concerns about ODOT's desire to add additional traffic lanes to the existing bridge.
Consultants are now privately showing an engineering diagram that shifts the bridge slightly to the south, and reconfigures ramps to create new development opportunities south of Jacobs Field. We're told that the design would also drop the road deck of the bridge significantly, improving views across the valley from both Tremont and downtown, and helping to improve street networks in the Gateway and Quadrangle districts.
As we reported in January, proponents of a new Innerbelt bridge have called for world-class architectural design. Just as importantly, they've urged ODOT to realign the bridge and highway south toward the river bluff, which would create enormous development opportunities near the $1.5 billion Gateway complex.
To that end, KSU's Urban Design Center, Cleveland Public Art and EcoCity Cleveland are considering a "Gateway Challenge" design competition similar to last year's successful Lakefront Challenge, seeking development visions for 30-50 acres just south of Carnegie Avenue. The competition would help raise community awareness about the land's potential, and also encourage ODOT to take a closer look at realignment possibilities.
NOACA selects planning grant recipients
According to the NOACA website, the TLCI, "helps communities in Northeast Ohio obtain federal funding and technical assistance for planning transportation projects that strengthen community livability."
The agency received 36 proposals (PDF) , seeking roughly twice the budgeted $1 million for 2005.
Applications for 2006 funding are tentatively scheduled for release this fall.
We congratulate our Cleveland EcoVillage project for winning approval of $12,000 for an EcoVillage Rapid Station Ped, Bicycle and Bus Connections plan, and thank the City of Cleveland for sponsoring the project.
Save the date -- Ohio passenger rail hearing
The Ohio Rail Development Commission has announced plans for a public hearing in Cleveland on its Ohio Hub proposal.
The Ohio Hub is a proposed network of passenger rail lines radiating from Cleveland to Pittsburgh, Toledo and Detroit, and Columbus and Cincinnati. A second tier of routes in the plan would link Columbus with Toledo, Pittsburgh, and Lima and Fort Wayne, Ind., and add a route from Cleveland to Buffalo.
The plan proposes multiple trains each way between endpoints, with top speeds starting at 79 mph and increasing during later phases. The system would connect at its extremes with proposed networks based in Chicago, upstate New York, and Pennsylvania.
Jim Seney, the rail commission's executive director, says that besides reviving rail as a passenger travel option, corridor development would improve freight service in Ohio by expanding and improving track, adding new signal systems, and replacing grade crossings with bridges.
The rail commission has pegged the initial system's cost at $3.4 billion, which Mr. Seney has said might be secured from the federal government using funds Ohio spends to improve railroad-highway grade crossings as a local match.
The Ohio Hub plan will be presented in Cleveland by ORDC officials at NOACA on May 5th, 2005 at 2:30 and 5:30.
BikeTown coming to Cleveland
The editors of Bicycling have selected Cleveland as one of their 20 BikeTown USA markets around the country for 2005, and in the coming months will give away 50 bikes from leading bike manufacturer Giant to any Cleveland-area residents interested in participating in the program.
Beginning in mid-March, any Cleveland-area resident interested in taking part in BikeTown can visit http://www.bicycling.com/biketown and submit a short essay (50 words or less) on what they would do with a free bike. Winning entries will be selected by the editors, and all winners will be asked to keep a journal for three months to chronicle their experiences with their bike. Results for all BikeTown participants may be featured in the magazine following the conclusion of the three-month period.
Bicycling began the BikeTown USA program in Portland, Maine in 2003 and expanded to five cities in 2004. As part of BikeTown, the magazine gives away 50 free bikes in each market to see how a bicycle can change someone's life, and perhaps their community.
In 2004, one-third of the 250 BikeTown participants lost noticeable weight, some more than 30 pounds over a three-month tracking period. On average, participants rode 10 miles per week, mostly for pleasure or exercise. But more than 2 in 5 people rode for transportation purposes, happily trading their car for a bike or, for some, gaining the freedom to travel alone for the first time. In addition to bicycles, all 2004 participants received bike locks, bike shorts, and a helmet.
For more information on BikeTown USA and Bike To Work, visit http://www.bicycling.com/biketown.
Cycling "share the road" license plate available
Ohio "Share the Road" license plates went on sale today. When you renew or purchase new vehicle plates this year, please consider these. You'll show you're a cyclist at heart, spread a safety message, and direct money toward a good use.
Proceeds help assure publication of the excellent booklet, "Ohio Cycling Street Smarts." You may order this special license plate by either going to http://www.oplates.com or by visiting your local deputy registrar's office. At Oplates, click on "SPECIAL PLATES" and you can select from a list.