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Bus Rapid Transit

Rave Review for Cleveland’s BRT Debut

4:33 PM EST on November 11, 2008

cleveland_brt_station.jpgCleveland bus riders at one of the Health Line's new stations.

Cleveland's first venture into Bus Rapid Transit -- a 10-mile route called the Health Line -- was turning heads before it fully launched, attracting planners from other cities looking to boost transit ridership. Now that the ribbons have been cut, the Plain Dealer's Steven Litt hails the finished product:

The core section of the line, from Public Square to University Circle,has center median stations on raised platforms designed to enableriders to step directly onto buses, as if they were rail cars. Aninnovative precision docking system makes it easy to align the buseswith precise spots on the platforms, so riders know where to queue.

The 34 stations along the line are smartly tailored gems. They havea light, transparent feel that makes them look both elegant and safe.They complement the architecture of nearby buildings, rather thanobscure views.

Less noticeable are the ingenious ways in which landscapearchitects from Sasaki Associates in Watertown, Mass., redesigned theavenue from building face to building face to include 5-foot-widebicycle paths and tapering islands with flower beds at the busstations.

Intended to spur economic development along the city's historic but struggling main drag, Euclid Avenue, the Health Line figures to get even more attention from other cities if the Obama administration commits to increased federal investment in transit:

Financed primarily by the state of Ohio and the federal government,the project shows how smart investments in mass transit and publicspace can help struggling cities turn themselves around.

The project also is a reminder -- after the collapse of the I-35bridge in Minneapolis and the catastrophic failure of levees in NewOrleans after Hurricane Katrina -- that America still has the ability totackle high-quality, large-scale infrastructure projects with style.

That's important at a moment in which the country has elected a newpresident who wants to invest heavily in urban infrastructure to createjobs, jump-start a sputtering economy and revitalize cities.

Just two weeks after the ribbon-cutting, the Euclid Corridorproject is becoming a national model. Joseph Calabrese, director of theGreater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, which masterminded andbuilt the bus line, said the agency has recently entertained largecivic delegations from San Antonio and Nashville, Tenn.

Photo: Steven Litt/Plain Dealer

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