CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Metroparks unveiled the opening of the Red Line Greenway, a nearly two-mile paved all-purpose trail that connects eight Cleveland neighborhoods. The trail utilizes the former RTA right-of-way along the Red Line to provide a linear urban trail with additional pull-off areas.
The Red Line Greenway provides a connection to the Michael Zone Recreation Center Park at West 53rd Street to the Cleveland Foundation Centennial Lake Link Trail located at the intersection of Franklin Avenue and Columbus Road. Trail users can access the Red Line at West 44th Street, West 41st Street, West 25th Street and Columbus Road near Abbey and Franklin avenues.
As part of the overall Re-Connecting Cleveland project, the greenway connects to the Cleveland Foundation Centennial Lake Link Trail, and will eventually connect to the Towpath Trail, the planned Irishtown Bend Park, and Edgewater Park.
“The Re-Connecting Cleveland project including the newly opened Red Line Greenway is doing just that — it is reconnecting our communities through a bold vision only possible through successful partnerships and community support,” said Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian M. Zimmerman in a news release. “This new accessible trail is breaking transportation barriers that have existed for decades and will improve access to and from downtown.”
The overall project was funded by a $7.95 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. A portion of those funds went to the greenway’s $6 million construction cost, and the remainder came from other federal and state sources.
The greenway utilizes the former RTA right-of-way along the Red Line to provide a linear urban trail with areas where families can pull off for recreation, picnicking, and other activities.
It also includes newly planted native trees and landscaping along the trail.
“Been involved a little while, yeah, I got involved in 1991,” Lennie Stover, founder of the Red Line Greenway, said.
Stover joined the Rotary Club of Cleveland back in the 90s, started cleaning up the corridor where the greenway would one day be built, coordinated thousands of greenway volunteers, and worked to convince the Metroparks and RTA to take a chance on an idea for a trail.
“I’ve been studying trails for 15 years now,” Stover said. “I've yet to find one that didn't quadruple its return on investment for the community. And I don't just mean development of apartments or new homes, I'm talking about better health outcomes, people being more social with one another.”
Now, 30 years after getting involved, that dream has become a reality for Stover and so many others.
The accessible trail provides a major east-west connector route as part of the overall Re-Connecting Cleveland project that is expected to be completed next month. The Re-Connecting Cleveland project also includes the upcoming Whiskey Island Connector Trail and Wendy Park Bridge, including the Canal Basin Park Connector and Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway Connector.
In total, all five projects link more than 66,000 Clevelanders to over four miles of trails that lead to places of employment, schools, shopping districts, and parks.
“It’s a critically important part of the puzzle of our high quality connected trail networks,” Ward 3 Cleveland City Councilman Kerry McCormack said.
But McCormack said it's not just about connecting people to places, it's about connecting people to their neighbors too.
“What we know is that when you invest in public spaces like this, they create equitable access for people of all different backgrounds to enjoy the outdoors and to safely connect outside of a vehicle,” McCormack said. “So for folks, maybe they're going to work. Maybe they're enjoying themselves, you know maybe they're just blowing off some steam on the trail. This is public and open to everyone.”
“The Red Line Greenway provides a safe bike and pedestrian corridor that connects tens of thousands of residents for improved travel between home and work, school and play,” said Grace Gallucci, Executive Director and CEO of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency. “The trail is a prime example of how improving our transportation network can support economic development and enhance the quality of life for all people of Northeast Ohio.”
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