RTA Tries to Ease the Pain of Corridor Construction
Published: Monday, December 11, 2006
Updated: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 08:09
As construction for the Euclid Corridor Transportation Project (slated for completion in late 2008) presses on, several businesses located on Euclid Avenue are beginning to feel a daunting strain on their bottom lines.
Closed roads and obstructed walkways make getting to many shops and restaurants a difficult task, causing a decrease in customers and profits.
Leila Abdallah, owner of Johnnie's Deli across the street from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, said the lack of parking on Euclid and the general confusion involved in crossing the street are issues of complaint for many customers.
"[Construction] has affected our business. We've lost at least 50 percent of business," said Abdallah. "And that's just now. When they close this side and the construction is right in front of us, it's only going to get worse. And when the [CSU] students go on break, it's going to get worse."
Café Ah-Roma has seen a shift in customer flow as well, but the continued support of a large base of loyal customers has kept barista spirits up.
"We're still busy in the morning," said Hunter Keels, a Café Ah-Roma employee. "But [business] drops off after 1 or 2 p.m. We used to pull in between $400 to $600 for the lunch hour, but that's gone down to about $300 or something like that. It was pretty slow today."
"[Construction] has affected business a little bit, but not too much," added Zachary Hartbaker, also a Café Ah-Roma employee. "A lot of our customers are pretty loyal with coming through everyday."
But according to Jerry Masek, media relations manager for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA), RTA isn't dismissing concerns expressed by business owners and civilians. They are taking a proactive approach to work with merchants in an effort to foster support and boost awareness of Euclid Avenue businesses.
"We have visited or talked with every merchant affected by the project and will continue to do that on a regular basis," said Masek. "The project has to continue, but we're trying to minimize impact [on Euclid Avenue businesses]."
RTA recently launched the "Open for Business" campaign, a public project they hope will stimulate foot traffic along Euclid Avenue and encourage people to visit establishments located within Euclid Corridor construction zones.
For now, the campaign is focusing on businesses located in Trinity Commons, which includes Ten Thousand Villages, across the street from CSU's Main Classroom building.
The "Open for Business" campaign's message, "the path to great shopping is through the orange barrels," is displayed inside buses, at rail stations and in newsletters that can be found in RTA buses, trolleys and rapids, according to an RTA news release.
Brochures with information about Ten Thousand Villages are also available on trolleys, and electronic "destination signs" on the fronts of the vehicles above the windshield promote the retailers at Trinity Commons.
Masek said trolley drivers are also sporting aprons supplied by Ten Thousand Villages.
"We picked Ten Thousand Villages to promote because of its uniqueness and they asked for RTA's help," said Masek. "We want to see if [the campaign] generates business and, if it successful, we want to use it for other businesses having problems."
Julie Verdon, the manager of Ten Thousand Villages, is optimistic about the campaign's success and said the retailer is coming up with strategies of their own to sustain business throughout the Euclid Corridor construction.
"We're doing a lot of offsite sales at companies and faith organizations and it's working out," she said. "Sales are definitely suffering. CSU staff and students are complaining about problems with crossing the street because it's hard for them to get over here. But RTA is helping us out. [The "Open for Business" campaign] is going to help, and we just have to come up with creative ways to get through the construction."
Despite present headaches and inconveniences, members of the CSU community have a lot to look forward to when construction is finally complete.
One of the main features of the project is a Bus Rapid Transit Line (BRT), which is a combination of a bus and rapid car.
According to Masek, these vehicles offer the "best of both worlds," combining the affordability of a bus and the dependability of a rapid. They will be energy efficient and travel along the corridor in designated lanes to avoid getting stuck in traffic.
"Once in place, they will run past CSU every five minutes," said Masek.
For many along Euclid Avenue, that day cannot come soon enough.
"There's no parking," said Abdallah. "East 18th Street and everything is closed. It's going to get worse. I hope to God not, but it's going to get worse."