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Transportation

Adequate and efficient transportation is a critical need for millions of Americans. In Ohio’s 10th Congressional District, the challenges are protecting the peace and tranquility of our homes from trains and airplanes. Congressman Kucinich continues to look for every available avenue to resolve these concerns.

Kucinich Secures Funding for Lakewood Improvements 


Overseeing Follow up on Past Victories for Train Infrastructure

Efforts to Halt Proposed RTA Service Cuts to Western Areas of Cleveland and Suburbs

Granger Road/Transportation Boulevard Improvement

Senior Transportation Connection

Cleveland Interoperability Communications System

Infrastructure Bill

Airport Taxi Consolidation

Quiet Zones

Cleveland Innerbelt Project

Examining Whether Public Subsidies For Professional Sports Stadiums Divert Funds And Attention Away From America’s Public Infrastructure

Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure Act

Reducing Traffic Mitigation and Advocating for Sustainable Transportation

Train Traffic Mitigation

Airport Expansion: Reducing Noise 

Truth in Airfares

View press releases and related documents on transportation

Kucinich Secures Funding for Lakewood Improvements 

Congressman Kucinich secured $311,000 through the Fiscal Year 2009 Appropriations process for the City of Lakewood for the development and enhancement of the City’s downtown district. This grant will provide the City of Lakewood the means to improve the beauty and functionality of downtown Lakewood. This investment will mean jobs, development and a more pleasant environment for our community to grow.

The City of Lakewood, in partnership with Lakewood Community Progress, Inc. developed the “Detroit Avenue Streetscape Plan,” which outlined a plan to redesign the streetscape of Detroit Avenue in Lakewood. The purpose of the improvements is to revitalize Lakewood’s downtown and organize traffic flow. The Detroit Avenue Public Right-of-Way Improvements grant, issued by the Federal Highway Administration was awarded as part of this project.

The funds will be used to add streetscape features such as ornamental signal poles, decorative street lighting, stamped concrete crosswalks and sidewalks, and enhanced signage. 


Overseeing Follow up on Past Victories for Train Infrastructure 

Congressman Kucinich continued to enforce compliance with railroad agreements.  The agreements concerning tracks along the Nickel Plate Line (Cleveland, Lakewood, Rocky River, and Bay Village) involve a cap on the number of trains, gates and lights at every crossing and other infrastructure improvements.  The agreements concerning tracks along the old Conrail Main Line (Brook Park, Berea, Olmsted Falls, and Olmsted Township) involve infrastructure improvements along the track, grade separations at Snow Road in Brook Park, Front Street and Bagley Road in Berea, and Fitch Road in Olmstead township.  In 1998, Congressman Kucinich secured the agreements among the various communities and the railroads on an $87 million mitigation package, most of which was for grade separations in the southwestern suburbs.  Since then, he obtained further federal funding for grade separations in Olmsted Falls, including Columbia Road and in Olmsted Township, including Stearns Road.  He also serves on the Technical Advisory Group for implementation of planning and development of the Fitch Road and Stearns Road grade separations.


Efforts to Halt Proposed RTA Service Cuts to Western Areas of Cleveland and Suburbs
 

This summer, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) proposed massive service cuts and fare increases.  Congressman Kucinich vehemently opposed the cuts and challenged RTA to find alternatives.  After Kucinich and thousands of riders and county taxpayers raised their voices, RTA backed off of the most draconian of service cuts. However, without a board vote, the RTA announced a program of scaled-back service cuts to be implemented on November 2, two days before the national election.  Congressman Kucinich, determined to provide needed oversight of RTA’s use of federal dollars, asked for a U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General accounting of how RTA is spending its money and has also asked that the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee investigate why RTA chose to cut route two days before the election and whether it is violating federal civil rights law.

Because so many people depend on RTA to get to the polls on Election Day, there were real concerns that RTA’s plans could disenfranchise voters.  Chairman Conyers, in turn, wrote to U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey sharing Congressman Kucinich’s concerns and asking the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate RTA’s service cuts and the consequences for voters.  The letter asked that DOJ be “proactive in its efforts to address any action that will have the effect of suppressing the vote of any eligible voter, such as this action taken by RTA.”  The letter also demanded that “individuals who rely on public transportation to get to and from the polls should be afforded the same voting rights and protections as those who have access to a private vehicle for transportation to the polls.”

Within days of Attorney General Mukasey receiving that letter from Chairman Conyers, RTA moved back its service cuts until after the election.  This was a victory for working class voters who depend on mass transit to vote in the November 2008 General Election.

Still, Congressman Kucinich is not satisfied with RTA’s slash and burn approach to cutting off service to its riders in the face of budget shortfalls.  He is not satisfied with RTA’s philosophy of threatening and instituting fare increases and service cuts before exploring other options for meeting its budget.

On July 24, 2009 Congressman Kucinich sent the following letter to RTA CEO and General Manager Joe Calabrese in firm opposition to RTA’s announced intent to raise fares and cut 12 community circulator routes. Read the letter here.

On Aug 31, 2009, Congressman Kucinich filed a legal brief in support of the City of Lakewood’s efforts to make public Regional Transit Authority (RTA) documents.  Ed FitzGerald, Mayor of the City of Lakewood requested documents under the State of Ohio’s freedom of information law concerning the Lakewood Circulator bus service.  The documents requested consisted of emails and internal documents concerning the operation, funding and proposed discontinuation of the Lakewood Circulator and other Circulators in the RTA system.

The people of Lakewood rely on the Circulator.  The bus gets people to their jobs, students to schools and the elderly to their doctors.  Decisions about closing bus service should not be made in vacuum; the impact on the community must be considered.  Congressman Kucinich filed a motion to appear as a Amicus Curiae, literally a friend of the court.  This would allow him, as a third party, to provide insight and perspective to the case. The brief was filed on behalf of the citizens of Lakewood and the residents of Northeast Ohio.  When the documents are made public, we will be in a better position to ensure that residents can continue to rely on public transportation to meet their basic needs.

On September 2, two days later, a state Judge ordered Regional Transit Authority (RTA) to hand over the requested documents.  The Lakewood Circulator is scheduled by RTA to end service on September 20.


Granger Road/Transportation Boulevard Improvement

Congressman Kucinich won $1 million in the FY08 Transportation, Housing, Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for the Granger Road/Transportation Boulevard Improvement project. Working with Garfield Heights Mayor Tom Longo, Congressman Kucinich secured the victory which will widen the road by adding new lanes and new traffic control devices. The improvement project is for the entire Transportation Boulevard corridor beginning on Granger Road in the city of Garfield Heights going from Granger Road on the north side of I-480 to Rockside Road on the south side of I-480 in the city of Garfield Heights.


Senior Transportation Connection

Congressman Kucinich also secured $1,222,000 for Senior Transportation Connection of Cuyahoga County. Senior Transportation Connection was incorporated in February 2005. The newly formed nonprofit’s solitary mission is to provide “comprehensive, coordinated, efficient and affordable transportation to seniors in Cuyahoga County” through centralized management and decentralized service delivery.

Senior Transportation Connection is committed to providing comprehensive, efficient, and affordable transportation for senior adults in Cuyahoga County. There is a great social net of human service and transportation providers in Cuyahoga County that serve older persons. Nearly 60 municipal and non-profit organizations provide specialized transportation services for older persons. The problem is that more services are needed to meet increasing demand. And in many communities, resources are dwindling. The money secured by Congressman Kucinich will be used to replacement aging vehicles and communications equipment.


Cleveland Interoperability Communications System

Congressman Kucinich secured $893,000 for the Cleveland Interoperability Communications System in the FY08 Commerce, Justice and Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. The Cleveland Interoperability Communications System funding is for the city of Cleveland. The money will be used to implement a countywide communication system. Public safety and homeland security depend on the ability of first responders to communicate efficiently with each other.

Because of Cuyahoga County’s size, interoperability remains a tremendous challenge for the region: the County features dozens of law enforcement agencies, fire departments, transportation systems and medical facilities, which collectively use more than 47 different radio systems. Due to limitations in technology, communication between different radio frequencies and even between different radio models remains difficult or impossible without systemic upgrades. The funds will assist the City of Cleveland – working together with Cuyahoga County – in its initial build out of the infrastructure needed to obtain interoperability. Such required infrastructure improvements include erecting steel towers to house antenna units; installing microwaves, repeaters, and channel banks; and purchasing zone controllers, dispatching equipment and end-user radios.


Infrastructure Bill

Congressman Kucinich and Congressman Steven LaTourette (R-OH), introduced bipartisan legislation to improve critical infrastructure in Ohio and nationwide. The Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure Act of 2007 would create a low-cost federal financing mechanism to administer zero-interest loans to localities. States choose which projects to fund with the loans according to their specific needs. Kucinich and LaTourette have introduced versions of this bill in each of the past three Congresses.

Congressman Kucinich believes his bill would help prevent tragedy such as the collapsing of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, which was structurally deficient and awaiting significant repair when the financing became available.

Kucinich also had a Domestic Policy Subcommittee hearing which focused on evaluating the promises that are made to cities which finance professional sports stadiums, as well as the extent that public infrastructure funding is diverted toward professional sports stadiums. Kucinich, as Chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has oversight jurisdiction over the Department of Transportation.

The Infrastructure Bill would create the Federal Bank for Infrastructure Modernization (FBIM). The bank, as an extension of the Federal Financing bank under the Treasury Department, would establish zero interest mortgage loans for states and local governments to use to fund specific projects. The loans would bear a small fee of one-quarter of one percent of the loan principle to cover the administrative costs of the FBIM. The bill would not require Congress to appropriate any funds and would effectively double the amount of financing that is available to states and localities for infrastructure investment.

This bill is not just an infrastructure improvements bill but a jobs bill as well. The Cleveland-area, and big and small cities across the country, would benefit greatly from this large federal investment. The country’s infrastructure needs are many and dollars are scarce. This bill will help communities do big-ticket projects for wastewater and water plants, roads and bridges.


Airport Taxi Consolidation

At the request of taxi drivers of Somali nationality, Congressman Kucinich twice objected to a plan by Cleveland airports director Ricky Smith to consolidate all airport taxi service to the exclusion of the Somalis. Congressman Kucinich supported the right of the Somalis, many of whom came here as refugees, to fully participate in the economy and make an honest living as taxi drivers at the airport. While supporting Director Smith’s efforts to improve taxi service at the airport, Congressman Kucinich recommended that the airport both enact and enforce high standards for all taxi drivers, not exclude the Somalis. Had the airport heeded Congressman Kucinich’s suggestions, it would have saved the City of Cleveland excessive legal fees in light of a federal judge’s ruling that the city violated the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.


Quiet Zones

In 2007, Congressman Kucinich intervened on behalf of the cities of Olmsted Falls and Brook Park before CSX Railroad to ensure that the railroad takes all necessary action to enable these cities to carry out their Quiet Zone ordinances. Between 2000 and 2005, Congressman Kucinich led efforts to get both Ohio and Federal Quiet Zone rules to limit train noise while ensuring existing or enhanced levels of safety. Periodically, cities do not get satisfactory responses from the railroads when they request help with railroad-related issues in their communities. In those instances, Congressman Kucinich intervenes by contacting the appropriate railroad official to ensure that the cities in his district get a response. Both Olmsted Falls and Brook Park received responses after these interventions.

Congressman Kucinich is conducting ongoing meetings with mayors and law directors of Lakewood, Rocky River, and Bay Village to ensure that the 1998 Conrail agreement which puts a cap on the number of trains through those cities at 14 trains per day would continue to be enforced.


Cleveland Innerbelt Project

The Innerbelt bridge is a vital piece of Ohio’s transportation infrastructure but is in need of major repairs.  In March of 2009, the result of working with Governor Strickland since he took office two years ago to demonstrate the need for a replacement of the Cleveland Innerbelt Bridge came in the form of an award of $200 million in economic recovery funds.

It was a turning point in the development of the Cleveland community.  Rebuilding the bridge will bring jobs and further investment in our community, our county and our state.  It is a strong step in the right direction towards getting Cleveland, Ohio and America back to work again.


Examining Whether Public Subsidies For Professional Sports Stadiums Divert Funds And Attention Away From America’s Public Infrastructure

State and local officials have frequently agreed to finance construction of professional sports stadiums, and the cost is high. By 2001, taxpayers had spent about $17.5 billion on all 99 major league sports facilities. Taxpayers also assume a large share of costs for new professional sports facilities. Among new professional sports facilities built since 1990, the average public share of costs is estimated to be 80 percent. The subsidy includes outright building costs, which average $124 million per facility; $48 million in foregone tax collections per stadium; and $24 million in land and infrastructure per stadium.

Spending taxpayer funds on sports stadiums often occurs in cities with significantly disintegrating public infrastructure. In Cleveland, for instance, there are five structurally deficient bridges at the same time there are three publicly financed professional sports stadiums.  In Minneapolis, where the I-35W bridge collapsed on August 1, 2007, killing 13 people, there are 10 structurally deficient bridges. The year before that bridge collapsed, the Minnesota Twins team received a new stadium financed with taxpayer funds.

The Subcommittee had two hearings to evaluate the promises that are made to cities which finance professional sports stadiums, as well as the extent that public infrastructure funding is diverted toward professional sports stadiums. Hearings also examined federal enforcement of Treasury regulations pertaining to issuance of tax-exempt bonds for professional sports stadiums.  Hearings were entitled, “Build It and They Will Come: Do Taxpayer-financed Sports Stadiums, Convention Centers and Hotels deliver as promised for America’s Cities?” and “Professional Sports Stadiums: Do they Divert Public Funds from Critical Public Infrastructure?” 

Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure Act

In June 2004, Congressman Kucinich introduced a bill, Rebuilding America's Infrastructure, H.R. 4631. This initiative would provide state and local governments with the funds needed to rebuild schools, bridges and roads, water treatment and sewer systems, and to provide funds for new school construction, mass transit systems and expanding the information superhighway to underserved populations.

The plan, based on a model developed by the Jerome Levy Institute, would provide state and local governments with $500 billion in zero interest loans for infrastructure programs over the next 10 years. Though infrastructure projects are very expensive, this bill would use money that the government already has in store. The Federal Reserve always holds a large amount of Treasury securities in order to add liquidity to our monetary system. Our bill will take a portion of those securities and simply transfer them into a new bank, the Federal Bank for Infrastructure Modernization (FBIM). These funds in the FBIM will continue to be overseen by the Federal Open Market Committee to maintain economic stability. The FBIM would establish zero-interest mortgage loans for states and local governments to use to fund specific projects. This way, Congress doesn’t need to appropriate any money, and states will be able to cut the cost of most projects in half with zero-interest loans. This unique funding mechanism has the potential to support America’s largest infrastructure program ever.

State and local governments would decide how and whether to use the funds made available by this initiative. Congress would define eligible projects by type. In this initiative, Congress would require that half the funds would be used for school repair and school construction.

Each state or local government would have access to about $185 per capita per year for 10 years for infrastructure improvement. Over the life of this initiative, state and local governments would have adequate funds available to optimally restore the infrastructure. For instance, the state of Ohio would have $20 billion available for infrastructure improvements.

This bill was originally introduced in April of 2001. On March 3, 2001, Congressman Kucinich testified at the Budget committee to unveil this plan to invest in America’s infrastructure and schools. Read the Congressman’s testimony to the Committee.

In the 106th Congress, Congressman Kucinich outlined a similar concept to the Budget Committee. The bill represents Congressman Kucinich’s continuing commitment to rebuild the infrastructure. In June 2004, Congressman Kucinich introduced a bill, Rebuilding America's Infrastructure, H.R. 4631. This initiative would provide state and local governments with the funds needed to rebuild schools, bridges and roads, water treatment and sewer systems, and to provide funds for new school construction, mass transit systems and expanding the information superhighway to underserved populations.

The plan, based on a model developed by the Jerome Levy Institute, would provide state and local governments with $500 billion in zero interest loans for infrastructure programs over the next 10 years. Though infrastructure projects are very expensive, this bill would use money that the government already has in store. The Federal Reserve always holds a large amount of Treasury securities in order to add liquidity to our monetary system. Our bill will take a portion of those securities and simply transfer them into a new bank, the Federal Bank for Infrastructure Modernization (FBIM). These funds in the FBIM will continue to be overseen by the Federal Open Market Committee to maintain economic stability. The FBIM would establish zero-interest mortgage loans for states and local governments to use to fund specific projects. This way, Congress doesn’t need to appropriate any money, and states will be able to cut the cost of most projects in half with zero-interest loans. This unique funding mechanism has the potential to support America’s largest infrastructure program ever.


Reducing Traffic Mitigation and Advocating for Sustainable Transportation

The passage of the Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy For Users (TEA LU) on August 10th 2005 saw significant benefits to the 10th District of Ohio. In this legislation, Congressman Kucinich secured funds to ensure our kids and bike commuters have a safe path to travel on. The legislation set aside almost $8.7 million for expansion of bike paths throughout the region. These bike paths will reduce traffic on our streets and ensure safe recreation for our families.

This legislation also funded improvements to combat traffic gridlock. A total of $7.6 million was set aside for various interchanges on I-480 (Brooklyn and Garfield Heights), Pleasant Valley and Bagley Road (Parma and Middleburg Heights), Crocker/Stearns Connection, (North Olmsted and Westlake), and U.S. Route 6 (Rocky River).


Train Traffic Mitigation

In Congressman Kucinich's ongoing effort to protect residents from excessive train traffic and noise, he built on the successes of the past 8 years and continues to be an advocate for local residents.

The Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy For Users (TEA LU) was signed into law on August 10th 2005. In this legislation, Congressman Kucinich secured funds to ensure both safer and ultimately quieter train crossings. Approximately $9.2 million was secured for construction at Sheldon Road, Berea; Front Street, Berea; Eastland Road, Berea; Stearns Road, Olmsted Township; and Columbia Road, Olmsted Falls.

The FRA issued a final rule to permit the establishment of a quiet zone, which took effect on June 24, 2005. The new federal regulation makes it possible to establish a quiet zone in the 10th Congressional District. The many small cities involved in this effort have been meeting regularly to implement a future quiet zone. The final rule can be viewed at the Federal Railroad Administration website by clicking here.

In January 2000, the FRA, the federal agency that regulates railroad safety for the United States, published draft regulations on Quiet Zones, new rules which could allow for a reduction or prohibition on train whistles after local communities had implemented improved safety conditions.

At Congressman Kucinich's request, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) held a public hearing on the issue of establishing a "Quiet Zone" on train traffic whistles for our local area. It was held on May 1, 2000, at Berea's Baldwin Wallace College. Berea was one of 8 communities across the country, including Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and Chicago, to host one of these important meetings about the FRA's proposed rules on Quiet Zones.

The FRA is considering new rules which seek to balance the need for rail safety with the needs of the people for peace and quiet in their homes and neighborhoods. These proposed rules would allow for certain conditions in some areas that would permit trains to cross roads without blowing their whistles, but only if there would be no compromise in safety.

On July 18, 2000, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a hearing on the impacts of establishing quiet zones. Congressman Kucinich testified in strong support of quiet zones, but cautioned the committee to examine the cost impacts on local communities. At the request of Congressman Kucinich, Mayor Robert Blomquist of Olmsted Falls also testified in strong support of quiet zones.

These are only the most recent efforts Congressman Kucinich has made. In June 1997, Norfolk Southern and CSX railroads applied to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) for the acquisition of Conrail. Not widely publicized by the applicant railroads, the proposed acquisition came to light in Ohio's 10th Congressional District when mayors in Cleveland's western suburbs were asked by a newspaper reporter to comment about a plan to triple the freight train traffic on a single track in the densely populated West Shore suburbs of Lakewood, Rocky River, and Bay Village, Ohio. The mayors contacted Congressman Kucinich about the plan to increase traffic from 13 to 39 trains per day in some of the most densely populated neighborhoods between New York and Chicago. In Lakewood alone, 27 at-grade rail crossings along 4 linear miles of track would be affected.

Under the Conrail acquisition plan, Conrail property, including trains, tracks, and right-of-ways, would be divided between Norfolk Southern and CSX. The tracks through the Greater Cleveland area would be divvied up to create new train traffic patterns throughout the Greater Cleveland area, increasing traffic in many parts of the 10th District.

Upon learning of the proposed acquisition, Congressman Kucinich immediately filed as a Party of Record with the STB. His status as a Party of Record not only entitled him to comment on the economic effects of the acquisition but also the human and natural environment effects. As a Party of Record, Congressman Kucinich was able to file trial briefs and participate in every aspect of the acquisition, including the financial merits of the merger, the effect the acquisition would have on the public interest, and the impact the merger would have on competitiveness in the Greater Cleveland area and nationwide.

Norfolk Southern's proposal to increase the number of trains on tracks through Cleveland's densely populated suburbs of Lakewood, Rocky River, and Bay Village, Berea, Olmsted Falls, and Olmsted Township could have adversely affected the quality of life of local residents. Congressman Kucinich and several suburban mayors raised these serious concerns about the harmful effects of Norfolk Southern's and CSX's proposal on local emergency services, particularly fire, police, and medical emergency services. The officials stated that emergency vehicles will be forced to wait at railroad crossings. Additionally, an increase in the frequency of trains at crossings will result in a significant increase in rail transport of hazardous materials.

Congressman Kucinich created a powerful community coalition around the train issue that was composed of individuals, community activists, a bipartisan coalition of mayors, technical experts and others. Congressman Kucinich also worked effectively with a variety of government agencies at local, state and national levels, notably the STB, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the federal agency with jurisdiction over all rail safety issues, and the Ohio Rail Development Commission, a state agency overseeing business development and safety issues surrounding rail transportation in Ohio.

At the request of Congressman Kucinich, FRA Administrator Jolene Molitoris agreed to hear local concerns in September of 1997 regarding the Conrail acquisition application. Six hundred citizens attended the hearing in September 1997. Mayors and representatives from Cleveland, Lakewood, Rocky River, Bay Village, Westlake, Olmsted Falls, and Berea shared the stage with Congressman Kucinich and Administrator Molitoris to hear the concerns of citizens, elected officials, fire, police, and hospital officials, representatives of schools and PTAs, rail safety advocates, and members of the business community with issues to bring to the discussion. This issue drew more than 6,000 inquiries from constituents about increased freight train traffic.

In October 1997, as part of his filing with the STB on the merits of the merger application, Congressman Kucinich created an alternative proposal. Congressman Kucinich proposed forming an independent rail operating entity that would function like an air traffic control center that would re-route rail traffic away from residential areas to the industrial areas needing freight service. Congressman Kucinich also delivered an analysis detailing the lack of competition for Cleveland-area businesses as a major flaw with the proposed Conrail merger. The analysis also outlined the environmental problems associated with the merger, and proposed mitigation for communities in Ohio's 10th Congressional District affected by the merger. Congressman Kucinich reiterated his request for the independent operating entity in his February 1998 trial brief, in which he also outlined the antitrust implication of the Conrail acquisition, as proposed by Norfolk Southern and CSX.

In March 1998, Congressman Kucinich sent a strongly worded letter on behalf of the Lakewood Fire Department to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) following a fire at the Holy Family Day Care Center in Lakewood, where three Lakewood fire and emergency vehicles were delayed for four minutes by a passing train. The Congressman cited the emergency vehicle delay as yet another example of safety problems likely to increase as a result of Norfolk Southern railroad's proposed tripling of train traffic in the West Shore suburbs. Three of the five emergency vehicles dispatched to the day care center by the Lakewood Fire Department were stopped for three to four minutes at the Warren Road crossing while a train traversed the city. Expert testimony at the September 1997 FRA hearing revealed that three or four minutes could mean the difference between life and death to a heart attack victim.

On March 17, 1998, the STB published Decision No. 71 which ordered the railroads to negotiate with the communities in the Greater Cleveland area. The STB stated that "the Cleveland area is unique with respect to the proposed CSX and NS operations. The Cleveland area would be a major crossroad for the CSX and NS proposed systems for traffic moving between the Northeast and the Midwest. . . . To the extent agreements are not reached, [the STB's Section on Environmental Analysis] will take the necessary steps to develop its own environmental mitigation for each of the communities in the Greater Cleveland area. . . ."

As a result of the multiple concerns and the STB's order, Congressman Kucinich and the local mayors entered into negotiations with both Norfolk Southern and CSX railroads. Congressman Kucinich identified and successfully assembled funding from a number of sources that enabled local elected officials, train company representatives, the Governor and Congressional representatives to negotiate a settlement to provide concrete benefits to Ohio's 10th District. For example, Congressman Kucinich, along with Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Madison), secured $26 million dedicated to mitigating the effects of the proposed Conrail acquisition. The Building Efficient Surface Transportation and Equity Act, otherwise known as BESTEA, included significant funding dedicated to the 10th Congressional District to alleviate many of the problems caused by the proposed acquisition of Conrail by Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation railroads.

On June 2, 1998, Congressman Kucinich, along with Mayor Tom Jelepis of Bay Village, former Mayor Stan Trupo of Berea, Mayor Madeline Cain of Lakewood, and Mayor Don Umerley of Rocky River, signed a set of historic agreements with Norfolk Southern and CSX that reroute trains from the West Shore, set up an alternative freight rail line through industrial portions of Cleveland, and provide federal, state, and railroad funding for grade separations in Berea and Olmsted Township. Congressman Kucinich and West Shore officials were joined by Ohio Governor George Voinovich, John Snow, the President, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CSX Transportation, and David Goode, the President, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Norfolk Southern railroad, to announce this historic settlement to the satisfaction of all parties involved.

Congressman Kucinich secured an $87 million agreement with the Norfolk Southern and CSX Railroads, and the State of Ohio to construct two underpasses in Berea at Front Street and Bagley Road, and one overpass in Olmsted Township at Fitch Road, to protect these communities. Also, for the West Shore communities, crossing gates were put in place at each of the 27 grade crossings in Lakewood. Hazardous material response programs were set up in each of the affected communities. Noise mitigation will be provided wherever the STB ruled it is necessary. The federal funds authorized for the project total $26 million; Norfolk Southern and CSX have committed a combined $44 million; the State of Ohio committed $17 million in state funds.

Importantly, the settlement includes stopping the increases in freight train traffic on the West Shore line and diverting the excess freight traffic to industrial areas of Cleveland, alleviating Congressman Kucinich's concerns that the acquisition would be anticompetitive and violate the nation's antitrust laws. Furthermore, because of traffic increases in Berea, Olmsted Falls, and Olmsted Township that could not be avoided, funding in the settlements include:

• $14 million for underpasses at Front Street and Bagley Road in Berea;

• $5 million for a grade separation at Fitch Road in Olmsted Township;

• $5 million additional funds for further mitigation in Berea; and

• $12 million general fund for the Conneaut-Vermilion rail line segment, for which the Berea and Olmsted Township projects would be eligible.

The agreements secured by Congressman Kucinich among the affected communities, the State of Ohio, Norfolk Southern, and CSX include:

• Reduction in the number of trains from 39 trains per day, as proposed in the original merger plan, to 13.9 trains per day, a reduction to 1995 levels, along the Nickel Plate Line from Cleveland through the West Shore communities, including Lakewood, Rocky River, Bay Village, and Westlake;

• Diversion of excess freight traffic from residential West Shore communities to industrial areas of the community between Cloggsville and the Rockport Yards;

• Expedited construction of Cloggsville Connection and double tracking at Vermilion, Ohio, much of which is already completed, making the diversion of the excess traffic possible;

• $87 million in federal, state, and railroad funding for infrastructure improvements in the 10th District, including two major underpasses at Front Street and Bagley Road in Berea, a major grade separation at Fitch Road in Olmsted Township, and major track improvements throughout the District;

• Safety gates and flashers for every rail crossing on Norfolk Southern's Nickel Plate line in Lakewood and the west side of Cleveland;

• Coordinated Hazardous Material Response and Electronic Notification System that includes a 24-hour toll-free number to report any accidents, crossing malfunctions, or any other emergency to the railroads;

• Noise mitigation for residents living close to tracks who will experience significant increases in the number of trains near their homes; and

• Legal recourse in the event that the terms of the agreement are not met.

The agreements reached in this merger are unprecedented. Never before have the railroads agreed to provide so much relief to citizens affected by a merger. This victory for the 10th Congressional District in Ohio can be attributed to extensive citizen participation in the merger, early intervention by public officials, and a legal process that encourages public participation.

On May 10, 1999, Congressman Kucinich, former Mayor Trupo, Federal Railroad Administrator Jolene Molitoris, and representatives from the Railroads and the State of Ohio held a press conference near the tracks at Front Street to announce that the state and the railroads delivered the first major installment of funding necessary to hire a project manager to begin the process of grade separation construction at Front Street and Bagley Road.

Also on May 10, 1999, Congressman Kucinich wrote to Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater asking that Ohio's 10th Congressional District be used as a demonstration project for Quiet Zones.

On June 1, 1999, Conrail was officially acquired by Norfolk Southern and CSX.

In June of 1999, Kucinich secured transportation funds dedicated to help the West Shore, Berea, and Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Township communities begin construction of necessary road underpasses and overpasses in Berea and Olmsted Falls. Construction work scheduled for Berea at Front Street and Bagley Road will receive $2.5 million and work scheduled for Olmsted Falls and Township will receive $625,000. An additional $1.6 million was secured for line improvements along the Vermillion-Conneaut railroad line, including necessary gate crossings and safety improvements.

In September of 1999, Congressman Kucinich, Lakewood Mayor Madeline Cain, and other West Shore officials joined representatives from Norfolk Southern and the Ohio Rail Development Commission in announcing the completion of the installation of crossing gates at the 27 grade crossings in Lakewood. The crossing gates were constructed ahead of schedule and under budget.

In October of 1999, Kucinich released letters he received from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) in response to earlier bipartisan letters that the and Congressman LaTourette had sent to the agencies on behalf of local communities' efforts seeking the establishment of "quiet zones" for local train traffic. The letters provide some new insight to the federal agencies' efforts to implement new regulations on the sounding of locomotive horns at rail crossings, allowing for "exceptions.....whenever communities established alternatives that provide the same level of safety at crossings as that provided by train horns" such as the construction of median barriers and grade crossing safety improvements. Congressman Kucinich asked that the FRA expedite rulemaking and hold hearings on any proposed rules on quiet zones in the Cleveland area.

On December 17, 1999, Congressman Kucinich, in response to complaints from Olmsted Falls School officials, held a press conference announcing his request to the FRA that federal rules be made to prohibit the blocking of grade crossings by parked trains, a problem that has increased in Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Township since the Conrail merger went into effect. This request was part of a 3-point plan that also includes restricting the parking of trains to more than 400 feet from a crossing to ensure visibility of vehicles crossing the tracks, and upgrading obsolete signal technology in the Olmsted Falls Schools community and nationwide.


Airport Expansion: Reducing Noise

Congressman Kucinich continues to advocate for noise reduction and for careful consideration in the expansion of Cleveland Hopkins airport. Congressman Kucinich has been and will continue to be an "Airport Watchdog," making sure that the expansion of the airport will be beneficial, not detrimental to the people most affected by airport expansion.

At Congressman Kucinich’s request, the FY 2005 Consolidated Omnibus Appropriations Act contained funding for software installation designed to minimize airplane noise from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. This new effort will provide an improved quality of life for the residents of Berea, Middleburg Heights, North Olmsted, Olmsted Township, Olmsted Falls, and Strongsville.

In July 2000, Congressman Kucinich achieved a victory for the 10th district of Ohio by helping to secure $2.4 million in federal funding for the noise insulation program. This funding will provide relief from jet noise for an estimated 115 homes in the City of Cleveland and Olmsted Falls areas.

This builds upon Congressman Kucinich's efforts on behalf of local residents. Residents of Greater Cleveland have heard much discussion about the expansion of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. There is no question that the airport is a significant engine of economic growth for the entire region. However, the concerns of people who live in the surrounding communities must be taken into consideration as the airport is expanded. While Congressman Kucinich supported some needed upgrades and expansion to keep Cleveland's airports and the Greater Cleveland area economically competitive, he opposed the expansion plan because it places a disproportionate burden on the residents of surrounding communities.

Congressman Kucinich became involved with the proposed expansion of the airport when former Mayor Tom Jones, Council President Beverly Smith and residents of Olmsted Falls came to him with their concerns. The Airport Coalition — consisting of current and former NASA engineers — presented compelling evidence that the city's plan to expand an existing runway from under 9,000 feet to over 12,500 was unnecessary. Congressman Kucinich called a public hearing, held on November 27, 1997, where former Mayor Jones, Council President Smith, members of the Airport Coalition met with six hundred residents. Several representatives from Cleveland, the airport and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were on hand to make presentations. At this hearing, the city of Cleveland stated that the runway would not be built one foot longer than necessary.

In the fall of 1999, Congressman Kucinich closely followed the public meetings in Cleveland and Olmsted Township to disclose and take comments on its Draft Noise Study. He also followed the public hearings focused on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) by the Federal Aviation Administration. Both were well attended, with approximately 1,500 residents from across Ohio's 10th Congressional District attending these meetings to voice their concerns about both expansion and current operations of Hopkins.

In October 1999, the FAA released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on Hopkins airport expansion. With input from the mayors of Bay Village, Berea, Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Olmsted Falls, Parma, Rocky River, Strongsville, and Westlake, as well as the many citizens of Ohio's 10th Congressional District who contacted his office, Congressman Kucinich filed official comments with the FAA on the City of Cleveland's proposed expansion.

In his 18-page formal filing with the FAA on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), Congressman Kucinich said the study did not offer sufficient alternatives to the proposed plan, and inadequately addressed environmental and residential concerns. The Congressman cited the study as inadequate for not addressing alternatives that would place less burden on the people who live closest to Hopkins. Greater use of other area airports such as Burke Lakefront Airport or the Akron/Canton Regional Airport would have better addressed the concerns of local residents and their elected officials.

In Congressman Kucinich's submitted written comments for the Draft Noise Study, he raised concerns over the slow pace and low quality of the sound insulation program for residences near the airport. He stressed the need for a Displaced Threshold on the southwest runway to reduce noise for residents of Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Township. And he stated support for programs and procedures to reduce airport noise. A range of issues were addressed including environmental concerns, noise concerns, and other planning alternatives.


Truth in Air
fares

In June 1997, Consumers Union filed a petition for rule making before the U.S. Department of Transportation calling for truth in airfares. The "Truth in Airfares" petition would require airlines to provide data on the average and lowest fares charged by carriers for each class of service on each route served by the carrier. In November 1997, Congressman Kucinich sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater to express his support of this petition and to ask the Department of Transportation to find a solution that would save American air travelers hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Kucinich later held a press conference with Consumers Union, and circulated a "Dear Colleague" letter to other Members of Congress to gain their support for this initiative. This effort produced a letter to Secretary Slater signed by 10 Members of Congress, including several key Appropriation Committee members.


 

Related Files:

RTA Letter

 


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