Feds say they could have fined RTA $142.8 million

(Downtown) - The City of Cleveland and the Regional Transit Authority continue to meet over the $12-million fine for the city's ban against buses from crossing Public Square. 

The Federal Transit Administration now says it could have asked for a $142.8 million payment for breaking the agreement to keep the square open to public transportation, but the FTA says it will settle for $12 million. 

Meanwhile, the city maintains the square will not be reopened, and RTA is facing a February 21st deadline to pay the feds.

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 terrorists 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. 

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

The FTA claims RTA isn’t upholding its end of the deal because buses are not allow to cross Public Square, and wants some of the 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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