FTA grants a final extension for RTA to pay back $12 million debt

Posted at 5:21 PM, Feb 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-20 17:21:46-05

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has granted the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) a final deadline of March 7 to complete the discussion to reopen Public Square to bus traffic or pay back the $12 million debt.

The FTA previously granted GCRTA an extension until Feb. 21 to pay back a portion of a multi-million dollar grant for a breach of contract. 

The federal agency claims a breach of contract occurred when city officials closed Public Square resulting in buses not being able to go through.

The money was a part of a $142 million grant to fund the construction of the Euclid Corridor. A portion of the initial grant was set aside for new construction, including downtown Cleveland and using bus lanes through Public Square.

In a meeting on February 9, the GCRTA explained that it's in discussions with the City of Cleveland to negotiate the reopening of Public Square to buses.

A safety study, which was commissioned by the RTA and released earlier this month, supported re-opening the square to buses, finding that not allowing bus traffic in the area actually increases the risk to pedestrians. 

Cleveland Chief Operating Officer Darnell Brown responded by calling the study a "premature release of information." He added that the city still needs a "clear understanding and assessment of risk" before they will reopen Public Square to buses. 

RELATED: Safetystudy finds closing Public Square to RTA buses increases risk to pedestrians