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The Little Engine That Should

Commuter rail into the heart of Lakewood could add to the 'cool' factor. How about a real 'Waterfront" line?

Last week, Lakewood resident Ken Prendergast, Executive Director of All Aboard Ohio, rekindled the debate about intercity rail transit for Ohio. His featured article appeared in the Sunday Feb. 7 issus of the Plain Dealer.

I recommend it.

Here's the link:

http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2012/02/youth_will_be_served_by_robust.html

Prendergast noted Governor Kasich's desire to have Ohio viewed as “cool,” especially among young adults. Urbanites (and suburbanites, for that matter) are looking for alternates to their cars as an important element of a desirable lifestyle. With that in mind, I have a modest proposal.

I think it is right time for a genuine “Waterfront Line” transit option, using the existing rail lines from downtown Cleveland, through Lakewood, Rocky River, Bay Village, Westlake, and possibly into Avon/Avon Lake.

I could see one of three sites for the Lakewood station.

They are:

  1. A platform at Merl Bunts Park, within walking distance of Detroit Avenue, with a possible transit 'hub” at the former Giant Eagle parking lot;
  2. The “green” between Belle and St. Charles, behind the Lakewood Center North building, along the south side of the tracks. This would be handy to Lakewood Hospital, the University of Akron site, and “downtown” Lakewood;
  3. And a dedicated transit hub into the designed into the plans for the renovated Lakewood Plaza site, near Kaufmann Park, between Andrews and Lakeland.

I don't spend a lot of time in Rocky River and Bay Village, but I could see stations adjoining the BeachCliff shopping district and the existing RTA Park-n-Ride along Sperry Road, near I-90 and Columbia Road. I think there would be suitable sites around the Avon/Avon Lake boundary along Avon-Belden Road (Ohio 83).

I think this could be done with far less expense, and certainly much quicker, than the rebuilding of the Inner Belt bridges. It would use existing facilities and sites, and could prove a great “pilot” project for later service into Lorain and Lake Counties, revitalizing urban commercial locales, using the model of transit-integrated development, which has done much for cities like Portland, Chicago, and Minneapolis/St. Paul.

How cool is that?

Let's add Lakewood and Cleveland to that list.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Edger February 18, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Of course it would work to tie in to all the shopping, entertainment, food/bars, libraries, parks. Detroit/65th all the way to Crocker Park and more. Yes people might have to walk, but I lived in NYC and never minded the walk as long as you could at least get to a reasonable distance from your destination. Kasich needs to get on board instead of sending monies out of Ohio. Regional ideas are the only thing that will save these communities. The days of our own little suburbs are done and we need to move into the future. The only thing that is stopping us is narrow-mindedness. Grow together, live together, is the future.
Edger February 18, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I also forgot to mention that my wife & I had thougt about moving to Maryland where the Metro is a big draw. Any housing or condos by a rail stop had their values skyrocket encouraging business development in those same areas. It's not like this is rocket science. Examples of growth in regions with appropriate rail service is all around us, that is, if we care to look. Time to move forward to take back out cities and growth.
David Connor February 18, 2012 at 05:23 PM
I remember some discussion back in the early- to mid-1990s when there were two sets of tracks, but it fizzled as quickly as it came up. All of you correct in saying that this will require the cooperation of the the Norfolk Southern, which owns the rail. I have heard that similar projects have been managed well in North Carolina and on a line between Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah, despite heavy "commercial" schedules.
David Connor February 18, 2012 at 05:28 PM
I wanted to focus on the possibilites for Lakewood. I think the idea of something around Gordon Square/Detroit Shoreway makes sense. Our former next door neighbors have a condo in Battery Park. I think they'd just as soon ride the train, as much as they listem to them.
Dennis Spirgen February 18, 2012 at 10:36 PM
There are two keys to effective commuter rail service. First, there must be high population density to provide ridership for the trains. Lakewood has this, but outside of Downtown Cleveland, the rest of our metropolitan area does not. Second, and just as important, the area served must have frequent, efficient and affordable public transportation to and from the rail hubs. Draw your own conclusions about that ever happening in Cuyahoga and Lorain Counties.

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