Construction, growing traffic block RTA buses and intersections on a path to bigger buildings

Posted: 9:17 PM, Aug 21, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-22 10:10:51-04

CLEVELAND — Billions of dollars in investment along Euclid Avenue has led to new construction projects popping up, bringing back the glamour from its days as "Millionaire's Row."

All that work can make it hard for traffic and pedestrians to get through, while pedestrians lose sidewalk space and cars are forced into bus lanes to avoid construction crews.

This panoramic picture shows the traffic build up outside News 5's newsroom every weekday at rush hour.

"This happens every day," said one bus rider on the mid-street RTA stop at Euclid Avenue and East 30th Street.

The bobbing and weaving in traffic on Euclid can be a show.

"It's quite an orchestra out here," said contractor Chris Wojcik.

Wojcik talks about how his construction site needs a lane of traffic to have enough room for equiptment while renovating the building behind him.

If he's the metaphorical conductor, while his construction site temporarily pushes car traffic into the bus lane that runs by, passerby's have a free front row seat to what follows.

"Somebody on a little scooter just drove in the bus lane," said one RTA rider.

The constant construction on Euclid can't be separated from the RTA's Healthline.

A Healthline bus waits for traffic to move out of the bus lane so it can get to the next stop.

"We're perfectly happy about what's going on," said Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Director of Service Management Joel Freilich.

Better transportation with the introduction of the Healthline has already paid off.

RTA says because of that better transportation along Euclid, there has been:

  • $200+ million invested at East Ninth Street and Euclid Avenue.
  • $380 million invested by CSU.
  • $370 million invested by University Hospitals.
  • $350 million invested by the Cleveland Museum of Art.
  • $1.3 billion invested by the Cleveland Clinic.
  • 23 million square feet in total development.
  • 8,800 new residential units.
  • 1,800 new dorms.
  • 1,300 new hotel rooms.
  • 13,000+ new jobs.

And there is more on the way.

"When one building is done, hopefully, another one will be under construction," said Freilich.

The price for drivers is paid in shrinking city streets.

Congestion from the ramp down the street backs all the way into the intersection of Euclid and East 30th Street most weekdays at rush hour.

"Squishes everything together, buses, cars," said David Early while he walked by.

"You see some traffic isn't paying attention to the signal, so they stand in the bus lane," said Wojcik.

"Everyone is kind of at a standstill," said another pedestrian.

A pick up truck that didn't make it through the light sits in the intersection until the light changes again.

Freilich says RTA has factored in those delays to their bus schedules," so that customers can still be delivered to or from downtown at the time we've promised," said Freilich.

But that doesn't stop the occasional back up, impatient, or confused driver. Over the course of about 20 minutes in peak rush hour, News 5's crew saw two drivers speed around traffic by entering the bus lane and a driver turn the wrong way down Euclid Avenue before realizing their mistake.

"Look at this," said one surprised driver while another driver sped by. "He ain't supposed to be doing that."

Much of the feedback Wojcik gets he's better off keeping to himself.

"Not all the words are pretty but you deal with it," said Wojcik.

It's a growing pain some people don't mind, for a city trying to keep the curtain from closing on a downtown revitalization that could be it's best performance yet.

"Cleveland is bustling, downtown is bustling," said Freilich. "It that means it takes a minute longer than if there was nobody living here, that's OK. You don't want to go to the nobody-living-here situation."