RTA Waterfront Line Will Reopen in September, But Only for Browns Home Games

RTA's Waterfront Line in an undated photo. - RTA


RTA’s Waterfront Line in an undated photo.

After a long two years of dormancy and repair work, including several stabilization tests and mending bridge cracks, the RTA’s Waterfront Line will officially reopen September 10th.

According to a press release Tuesday, the RTA will only operate the Waterfront Line, which extends from Tower City to East 9th, during Browns home games to start. Mike Schipper, RTA’s deputy general manager, said the line will return to “full service” in 2024, though didn’t specify any precise dates.

The aim to reopen the line, shut down due to an aging bridge connector in the Flats East Bank, by September has been a goal of CEO India Birdsong-Terry since at least the spring, when she confirmed the line’s reopening schedule.

In an interview, Schipper said that, as of this week, the bridge repairs “are done,” along with necessary fixes of the retaining walls. In the next month, tracks must be repainted and repositioned. Operators who haven’t steered cars on the Waterfront since 2021 must be retrained, he said.

“It’s been two years, after all,” Schipper said. “Thank you for your patience.”

The Waterfront’s return to service coincides with the Blue/Green Line’s temporary pause from operation. On August 20th, the line will be cut for six weeks of trackwork and installation of new crossovers and switches. The Blue/Green Line was shut down for repairs previously both in 2020 and 2021, which centered on track surrounding Shaker Square.

Last week, the Bibb administration unveiled its long-awaited plans and ideas for the 1,600-foot-wide parking lot north of Cleveland Browns Stadium. The reveal, still set for more public feedback, included a new multimodal “box” near the Waterfront Line’s inevitable intersection with the future land bridge.

Schipper said that RTA has engaged with the Bibb administration on what such multimodal stop should be—and where it should be constructed—and that, Schipper said, “it probably shouldn’t just be a box under the bridge.”

Whatever end path the lakefront design takes, Schipper hopes its amenable to the Waterfront Line’s ideal future: as the go-to choice of transportation for Downtowners.

“The history of the line now is certainly during events,” he said. “We want more people using [that line] for non-events, for every day use.”


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