Start Date Pushed Back on Cleveland Avenue BRT, Now Called CMAX
COTA’s Cleveland Avenue Bus Rapid Transit project has a new name – CMAX – as well as new branding and preliminary station designs. It also has a slightly larger price tag and a delayed starting date.
The new cost estimate for the project is $47.7 million, 80% of which would be covered by a Small Starts grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). COTA received approval from the FTA in the spring to proceed with the engineering for the project, and expects final approval to be granted in February.
Lisa Knapp of COTA said that the higher cost – the previous estimate was $39.4 million – is due to a variety of factors stemming from the more-detailed engineering work that has now been completed. For instance, an additional bus was added to meet expected demand, and it was determined that a new traffic signal would be needed for a planned Northern Lights park-and-ride. Knapp also said that the final price tag could come down once all of the engineering work is complete.
As for the delayed start date, Knapp said that complications at the federal level – such as the congressional budget battle of 2013 and changes to the FTA funding stream – pushed back the projected start of operations from September of 2016 to May of 2017.
The aim of the project, which COTA estimates will increase ridership by 15 to 20% and reduce travel times by up to 20%, is to bring some rail-like amenities to bus service along Cleveland Avenue.
All of the 32 proposed CMAX stops between downtown and State Route 161 will feature distinctive signage, new shelters, and digital displays with real-time arrival information. Public art, bicycle parking and landscaping is planned for nine of the stops, while two new park-and-ride facilities will feature raised boarding areas and ticket vending machines.
The route will extend north to the Ohio Health Medical Center at Polaris, but buses north of 161 will be less frequent. The stops north of 161 will be CMAX-branded but will not have shelters.
CMAX buses will also receive signal priority at stop lights, which will help to reduce travel times.
To give an idea of the break-down of costs for the project; right-of-way acquisition and construction of the two park-and-ride facilities – one at the Northern Lights Shopping center, and the other at the Meijer just south of 161 – account for about 14% of the overall cost, while new buses – 14 low-floor, compressed natural gas-powered vehicles – account for another 20%. The rest of the costs are split between station upgrades and other site work, signal-priority technology, and professional services like engineering.
For more information on the project, visit www.cota.com.
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