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Cleveland, nevertheless, faces a number of specific challenges in the area of Transportation & Transit, which need to be addressed:

  • Inadequate Truck Access to Major Highways: Because many of the companies that made Cleveland a highly successful manufacturing center were (and are) located near rail lines, without direct access to major roadways, both outbound and inbound trucks have had little choice but to utilize local residential streets, thus disrupting formerly quiet neighborhoods and taking a heavy toll on the streets themselves—not to mention often having to navigating circuitous and confusing routes. Despite the fact that the area’s freeway system is now complete and provides excellent access to and from other parts of the state and country, access to that system remains a problem faced by many businesses, especially those located in older industrial areas away from interchanges.

  • Issues Facing Public Transportation: Despite a high rate of automobile usage and a well-developed roadway network, a large segment of the city’s population is not being adequately served. The reality is that many residents either lack access to a car, are too young to drive, or (with the rising cost of gasoline) choose not to use one for all trips. The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority operates an extensive system of bus and rapid transit lines throughout Cuyahoga County that provides transportation for tens of thousands of such residents each day. However, shifts in residential and employment patterns, and the aging of the transit infrastructure—along with the fact that a smaller share of the traveling public now uses public transportation—constitute trends that must be addressed by RTA and the City in order to provide better service to residents who are dependent on that resource or would use it if it offered better connections to necessities and opportunities.

  • Although the city is served by a number of multi-purpose trails, many area attractions are not adequately accessible by non-motorized means.  Priority must be given to the construction of additional facilities to enhance bicycle and pedestrian connectivity.  [Multi-purpose trail in the Cleveland Metroparks’ Rocky River Reservation]|

    Growing Desire for Non-motorized Access to Amenities: Residents who, in growing numbers, seek alternatives to dependence on gasoline-powered vehicles—and/or opportunities for improving personal fitness and good health—are complaining of insufficient means of non-motorized access to Cleveland’s amenities, both natural and built. While a system of multi-purpose trails has been developed in area parks and along certain corridors, many of the city’s attractions still lack adequate bicycle or pedestrian access or are accessible to only the most determined riders and walkers. In order to create a more vibrant, livable urban center, bicycle and pedestrian access to all areas of the city must be given a new priority.

  • Much of Cleveland’s existing transportation infrastructure was constructed prior to World War II.  In order to ensure that the city is able to remain accessible and economically viable, this aging infrastructure will continue to require ongoing maintenance, upgrading or replacement.  [Fulton Road Bridge over the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Big Creek]

    Deteriorating or Outdated Infrastructure: Perhaps the most critical of all the issues Cleveland faces as it strives to create the superior transportation infrastructure the city will need to compete in the coming decades, involves outmoded or deficient facilities. Much of the existing infrastructure was constructed before World War II and will need to be repaired or replaced over the next several years. Keeping the existing system in good condition while adding or expanding critical elements is a formidable challenge that must be met.

Access is Key: As can be seen from the foregoing, the transportation and transportation infrastructure of a city is, and must be, shaped by the changing needs of its residents and its economy. History also shows that a city’s transportation infrastructure has a huge impact on access—or lack of access—to opportunities and has a direct impact on the quality of life in its neighborhoods. Roads, bridges and public transportation must therefore be planned in the light of those needs and that potential impact. Indeed, the transportation infrastructure Cleveland puts in place or refurbishes over the next decade or so can, if it is wisely planned, support the City’s ability to achieve its goals in other areas of city life, such as providing appealing housing options and “neighborhoods of choice,” better access to jobs and amenities, a supportive (and attractive) environment for business, and a more vibrant economy. By the same token, certain decisions made in these other areas can strengthen the sustainability of the city’s transportation infrastructure.

An Integrated Strategy: What is needed, therefore, is an integrated plan and set of stated policies that pulls together these related interests and uses them to support one another, while addressing the challenges identified above.

Next Page:Transportation and Transit:Policies & Strategies

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