Central Ohio Transit Authority officials and community leaders ceremonially broke ground on the agency's first bus rapid transit line yesterday.
Mike Foley reports.
CMAX service will stretch more than 15 miles between downtown Columbus and the Polaris Parkway/Africa Road intersection with Cleveland Avenue being the primary corridor. COTA officials say the route will serve customers every 10 minutes between downtown and State Route 161 and every 30 minutes to Polaris Parkway. Stations along the route will feature real-time bus screens and local artwork. Branded busses will offer free Wi-Fi and charging ports. COTA president and CEO Curtis Stitt says CMAX’s limited stops and traffic signal priority will help riders reach their destinations 20% faster.
“CMAX not only elevates transportation in central Ohio, it has the potential for changing lives and elevating the people we serve. CMAX is about the 200,000 residents and 170,000 employees who live and work in this corridor that the CMAX will serve. The CMAX will improve the quality of life for these people by providing them faster, more convenient, and affordable options for travelling to and from work, school, healthcare, and so many other important destinations that they have to get to.”
Cost estimates for the project are close to $49 million. The Federal Transit Administration appropriated $38 million for CMAX, with COTA funding the rest. But the potential economic impact along Cleveland Avenue reaches well beyond that cost according to Emmanuel Remy, chair of the Northland Community Council.
“The economic stimulus that this is gonna bring to the Linden areas, to the Northland areas and beyond - estimates of half a billion dollars. This means increased home values, but also the opportunity for affordable housing throughout the corridor. When a large national chain such as Meijer decides to go out in the Northland area, it isn’t the doomsday that it might have been 3 to 5 years ago when I think of the opportunity for affordable housing to sit right there at 161 and Cleveland and the transportation to take it up and down the corridor for jobs and everybody else that lives in that area. The other piece of it is, the cross town traffic is gonna improve too.”
Construction begins this month and will occur in four phases through next year. COTA will update the project’s progress on its website. Officials expect to launch the CMAX service in January 2018.