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Sewer District strikes back; Cincy streetcar derailed (again); 'eastward ho' for RTA; shrinking city returns

Marc Lefkowitz  |  11/14/13 @ 10:00am  |  Posted in Transit, Clean water, Land

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is fighting a court order to shut down its “green” stormwater program; this week, it asked the Ohio Supreme Court to hear its case.

Back to the land<br />How big of a role will urban farms like the Ohio City Farm play in Cleveland's vacant land crisis?<br />The damage done<br />Doan Brook on the east side of Cleveland overflowing its banks during a heavy rain.

The district court just doesn’t understand what is waste water and how it flows freely from land to decimate streams and pollute our our drinking water, the District argues. They are the only regional body that can wrap their hands around the scope of this problem.

We’re stakeholders in this claim—roofs and pavement are not acts of God— when we develop or occupy space on hard surfaces. The Sewer District will refund some of the stewardship at a community and personal level. There may be some room to improve the capture techniques beyond rain barrels and rain gardens, but there’s no other feasible way to repair the deluge that wipes out roads, hills and green acres at a regional scale. If you agree, take the PD’s online poll.

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Many hands are wringing over the fate of the Cincinnati streetcar after the electorate last week picked a mayor who ran on an anti-progressive, anti-streetcar plank. Urbanophile called it Cincinnati’s “culture of self-destruction.” They observe that a tearing out of rails and breaking $95 million in contracts would never happen if it was a road.

“It’s tough to name any governor or mayor that has ever sent back earmarks on a highway project, or ever cancelled any road project they could actually get money to build on the grounds that it’s a boondoggle,” writes Urbanophile.

Rail is a top target for anti-progressives in Ohio and Wisconsin where both governors killed intercity rail projects. Ohio Governor Kasich forfeited $400 million for a rail line that would have connected Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. Wisconsin Governor Walker gave up on $800 million in Stimulus funds for rail, killing a passenger line between Madison and Milwaukee. That move prompted Talgo, which had started building trains for the project, to sue the state this week for $65 million in a breach of contract. Observers think the company has a good chance at winning.

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Greater Cleveland’s Regional Transit Authority is weighing the option of extending to the east its legacy light rail system, aka the Rapid, OR its five-year-old “HealthLine” bus-rapid transit (BRT) system that runs on the road in roughly the same area. The Red Line extension could connect University Circle to the growing arts enclave in Collinwood if it veered north on underused freight line. BRT would be the clear choice for economic benefit in hard-hit East Cleveland and city of Euclid IF the award-winning complete street from Cleveland, which leveraged $4 billion in activity, continues east to remake Euclid Avenue from “eyesore to positive focal point,” in the words of Joe Calabrese, RTA general manager.

RTA just announced the Red Line/Health Line extension study’s second round of public meetings, December 10-12.

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The presence of charter schools in Cleveland continue to be a complex issue. For thousands of families in the Cleveland Municipal School District who are seeking a quality education. And for a new generation of residents who are opting in to charter schools that are part of CMSD. The exclusivity—and the opportunity—that charter schools represent are explored in this article in Belt Magazine. The author, a minister sending his kids to a charter school, feels “implicated.” Whether you feel that charter schools create choice and retain residents or sap strength from the public schools is relevant to the discussion as more middle to high-income families move in.

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Cleveland is at the forefront of a national trend, The New York Times reports, of “ungrowth” cities forced to rethink everything they know about urban planning. Cleveland, Detroit, Baltimore and Youngstown are all “shrinking,” but their planning has been premised on growth. Cleveland needs new ideas for dealing with 10,000 vacant lots and a 17% population loss. The Times suggests:

“Today, it is also about disinvestment patterns to help determine which depopulated neighborhoods are worth saving; what blocks should be torn down and rebuilt; and based on economic activity, transportation options, infrastructure and population density, where people might best be relocated. Some even focus on returning abandoned urban areas into forests and meadows.”

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If RTA does vote to extend the HealthLine, it shouldn’t expect any help paying for new buses from the state of Ohio. ODOT re-wrote the rules this week— stripping $34.4 million from Greater Cleveland that pays for bus replacements and cool projects like the Towpath Trail extension on Irishtown Bend through the Flats West Bank and over to Whiskey Island. You can kiss those projects goodbye.

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RTA Fan
4 years ago

I thought that RTA officials had already decided to get in front of the results of the study RTA commissioned and declare that there was no way that it would extend the Red Line? Sure, the HealthLine works for a commute from University Circle, or even Windemere, but there is no way that RTA is going to coax Lake County residents to take the HealthLine all the way downtown from the Lake County border. Has RTA released any commute time numbers for a trip from the Lake County to downtown on the HealthLine (which already takes 25-30 minutes from University Circle)?

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