City of Cleveland refuses to reopen Public Square by Monday, disagrees with RTA's claim that it can't absolve the city of legal responsibility

CLEVELAND, Ohio - The city of Cleveland does not plan to reopen Public Square to buses by Monday as the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority requested. City officials say they won't reopen the square while they still are in discussions with RTA on...

City of Cleveland refuses to reopen Public Square by Monday, disagrees with RTA's claim that it can't absolve the city of legal responsibility

CLEVELAND, Ohio - The city of Cleveland does not plan to reopen Public Square to buses by Monday as the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority requested.

City officials say they won't reopen the square while they still are in discussions with RTA on "financial, transportation and security issues" related to the square.

RTA General Counsel Sheryl King Benford on Feb. 6 sent a letter to the city requesting that Public Square be reopened to buses by Feb. 13.

In response, Richard Horvath, chief corporate counsel of the city's civil division, wrote in a Feb. 10 letter to Benford, "These ongoing discussions supersede the requests made in your letter and constitute the city's response to your requests."

City of Cleveland wants no legal responsibility for harm if buses are allowed on Public Square

Horvath's letter also addressed issues about indemnification Benford raised in a Jan. 31 letter to Barbara Langhenry, the city's law director.

Benford had said RTA didn't have the authority to absolve the city from any legal responsibility if anything were to happen on the square because bus traffic was permitted to cross the space.

She was responding to comments Darnell Brown, the city's chief operating officer, made about indemnification during a Jan. 30 meeting between the city and RTA. Brown had said the city would want RTA to "hold the city harmless from any liability for third party claims arising out of a decision to open Superior Avenue at Public Square to vehicle traffic."

But Horvath, disagreeing with Benford, argued that RTA does have the authority enter into a contract holding the city harmless from legal responsibility for reopening the square.

The square has been closed to buses since Aug. 1, when Mayor Frank Jackson chose to ban them in favor of a unified Public Square. Jackson has said he would reopen the square to bus traffic if there was no way to keep it closed without harming RTA's operations or bottom line, and if RTA addresses the city's safety concerns.

RTA is on the clock from the Federal Transit Administration to either reopen Superior Avenue through the square to buses or to repay $12 million in federal grants it received for the the Euclid Corridor Transportation Project by Feb. 21.

Feds could have fined RTA $142.8 million over bus ban in Public Square

Because the city will not permit buses to cross Public Square, RTA is not upholding its end of a funding deal it made for the Euclid Corridor Transportation Project, the FTA asserts. The Euclid Corridor Transportation Project established the HealthLine, which runs down Euclid Avenue and ends in Public Square.

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