Three suburbs in Northeast Ohio got a holiday bonus for bike and pedestrian improvements—thanks to the late arrival of the Fast Act, the $305 billion transportation bill that the federal government approved for 2016-2020.
Cleveland Heights, Olmsted Falls and Parma Heights were notified by the Northeast Ohio Regionwide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) that their street improvement projects were approved. They will receive implementation grants of $100,000, $144,000 and $330,000 for plans that were also funded by the agency’s Transportation for Livable Communities (TLCI) program.
The TLCI program is split between planning and implementation grants. The three projects ranked near the top, but the agency had declined them—until the new funds arrived.
The goal of TLCI is to improve multi-modal access—and that’s what the three projects will do.
For Cleveland Heights, the money will be used to “traffic calm” a busy and wide intersection where four roads converge awkwardly at the top of Edgehill Road, a major bike commuting route. Recent bike counts conducted by NOACA show that hundreds of people living in the Heights area commute on this route by bicycle to University Circle and downtown Cleveland. Cleveland Heights completed a TLCI plan that envisions a stop sign for Overlook west bound and reducing the crossing distances for pedestrians by removing unneeded pavement. Instead, bioswale bump outs and "brick" crosswalks, will provide pedestrians and cyclists safer passage.
Olmsted Falls plans to use its funds to make its downtown more pedestrian friendly. The city would like to add pedestrian cross signals and new “ladder” style crosswalks at the intersection of Columbia Road and Mill Street. It is also considering a road diet for Mill Street from two to one lane with angle-in on-street parking.
Parma Heights has ambitions to remake Pearl Road into a complete and green street. The city’s plan includes a road diet with buffered bike lanes on Pearl Road starting just south of Snow Road (the intersection is in Parma and near the border with Cleveland which is also considering a plan to add bike lanes on Pearl/W.25th Street in Old Brooklyn). The plan also includes removing poorly maintained asphalt for vegetation. A green median will be considered for spots like the intersection with Denison Road. But, the city won’t take the bold step of a road diet at the intersection of Stumph Road—despite identifying its potential as a walkable downtown— because they're afraid to add 50 seconds of delay to evening traffic.
NOACA’s Board voted in December to increase the amount of TLCI implementation grants to $1.5 million (from its current $500,000 annual supply). Another $500,000 will be available for TLCI planning grants.