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RTA Waterfront Line temporarily open for Cleveland Browns games

Greater Cleveland area increasingly accessible to community
Courtesy of Zachary Treseler/The Observer
A Waterfront Line train arrives at the Flats East Bank station, one of the first times a train has run on the line in two years. It is currently not fully operational, but is expected to be by the end of this year.

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) recently reopened the Waterfront Line for limited service during home games at Cleveland Browns Stadium. This will bring the total number of rail lines in Cleveland up to four. Since 2020, the line has seen intermittent use, and was shut down due to low ridership, only to come back online from the spring until September 2021, when it was shut down “indefinitely” again.

The Waterfront Line was originally completed in 1996 as a project to celebrate Cleveland’s bicentennial, running between Tower City, along the edge of the Flats neighborhood and then ending at the South Harbor Station.

“This is exciting news,” said third-year mechanical engineering student Jarod Lau about the reopening. “Settler’s Landing and Flats East Bank stations are beautiful stations with amazing views and it will be good to see them finally being used. Hopefully this will also bring a lot more activity to the restaurants and commercial areas of the Flats East Bank area.”

For football fans and the campus community, the largest and most immediate impact is the fact that Cleveland Browns games and other downtown attractions—such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Great Lakes Science Center—are now accessible by public transportation.

“Whenever I use the Red Line during game days, all of the three cars used are always packed by the time the train reaches Tower City, so it will be very useful for bringing fans directly to the stadium from there,” Lau said about the Waterfront Line.

On the other hand, third-year civil engineering student Milo Vetter said he doesn’t expect to benefit much. “Having to transfer from the red line is an understandable limitation, but it makes taking the waterfront line overly inconvenient, especially because I enjoy the walk from tower city to the lakefront. However, I imagine it would be much more useful for people who live close to a [B]lue or [G]reen [L]ine stop. The Waterfront [L]ine would also be useful for CWRU students with disabilities, as well as people who don’t feel safe walking from [T]ower [C]ity to the [L]akefront.”

In spite of its reopening, the Waterfront Line is still not fully operational. Currently, the RTA expects the line to be fully operational in spring or summer of 2024.

In a comment to the Cleveland Scene magazine, the RTA’s Deputy General Manager Mike Schipper noted that replacement work to the bridge is done, but work has yet to be done on various retaining walls, in addition to repositioning the track.

Across the RTA network, there is still further trouble. The RTA’s Blue and Green Lines, two rail lines which extend through Shaker Heights to Van Aken and University Heights, had service suspended from August until the beginning of October. Such a large closure harks back to the Red Line’s sudden and poorly announced closure last semester, which greatly impacted the community.

Vetter said regarding the long run implications, “This news also represents an important stepping stone for the RTA; I imagine that improvements and new projects were delayed in order to get the Waterfront Line back up, so I’m excited to see what the RTA has in store for us in the future.”

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About the Contributor
Zachary Treseler
Zachary Treseler, News Editor
Zachary Treseler is a third-year student majoring in international studies and economics, with minors in art history and French. Outside of writing to The Observer (sometimes at the last minute), you might be able to catch them walking backwards around campus, in Northeast Ohio's various bookstores, or seeing a show at Playhouse Square. Zachary also makes fudge…sometimes.

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