The battle rages over Cleveland's Public Square

(Downtown) - The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has released a study contending that reopening bus traffic through the center of Public Square would bring cost savings and added safety.

City Hall chief of operations Darnell Brown claims the report released by RTA is incomplete and doesn't not take into account the risk of a terror attack on the square. 

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has maintained that keeping Superior Avenue at Public Square closed preserves the city's aesthetics and reduces a risk to crime. 

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams says there is concern that terrorist might target Public Square because it is a meeting place for free speech, so it needs to be secured. 

Baldwin-Wallace University political science professor Dr. Tom Sutton believes Jackson may have the advantage at this point. 

However, Sutton says this could become a major political issue with the mayor running for re-election, and possible challenger Councilman Zack Reed fighting to reopen the square. 

Reed tells Newsradio WTAM 1100 the terrorism argument is a weak one, and says terrorists could strike anywhere in the city not just Public Square. 

The study conducted by K&J Safety and Security Consulting Services, contends that the closing has increased operational risks to vehicles, pedestrians, and the RTA around the perimeter of the square, and at five adjacent intersections, in addition to creating a choke point at the southern end of Ontario Street.  

The study also maintains that the closure adds an extra $805,300 in operating costs to RTA. However, K&J admitted that costs could be reduced to $223,000 by improving 16 intersections. 

RTA wants the square reopened to bus traffic because the agency had received $12 million in federal funding for a project that established a downtown transit zone. 

The federal transit administration says the RTA isn’t upholding its end of the deal because buses are not allow to cross Public Square, and wants that funding returned. 

Reed agrees that the city made a deal with the feds and now they must live up to their obligations and open the square.

(Photos by Ken Robinson/WTAM)

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