CLEVELAND — The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority is joining in on the hype for the Browns home opener on Sunday. On Friday, they held a ribbon cutting for the reopening of their Waterfront Line at their Flats East Bank Rapid Station.
"We've got a lot of great energy here, hopefully a good mojo for the Cleveland Browns starting up this Sunday," India Birdsong Terry, General Manager and CEO of the Greater Cleveland RTA, said.
The Waterfront Line goes from Terminal Tower and along the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie before ending at the South Harbor Station in the Muni Lot. The tracks had been closed since September of 2021 due to safety concerns regarding their main bridge near the East Bank of the Flats.
RTA officials tell 3News with $10 million dollars now invested in rehabilitation, the line is ready to go. But for now, it will only run on the days the Browns are playing at home. That's nine days total:
- Sunday, Sept. 10 (Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals)
- Sunday, Sept. 24 (Tennessee Titans)
- Sunday, Oct. 1 (Baltimore Ravens)
- Sunday, Oct. 15 (San Francisco 49ers)
- Sunday, Nov. 5 (Arizona Cardinals)
- Sunday, Nov. 19 (Pittsburgh Steelers)
- Sunday, Dec. 10 (Jacksonville Jaguars)
- Sunday, Dec. 17 (Chicago Bears)
- Thursday, Dec. 28 (New York Jets)
Some in the community have noticed that if the Browns aren't playing, the line isn't heavily used. WKYC asked the RTA if this line is really worth the investment.
"When you take into account that if we wanted to build this line from scratch, it would probably be $250 million," Mike Schipper, Deputy General Manager for Engineering and Project Management for the RTA, answered. "That $10 million is a very small investment to have a critical piece of infrastructure back and operational. We're taking care of it so that for the next 10, 20, 30 years it can be utilized by people from the city of Cleveland and for our whole region because we draw a lot of people to the waterfront, to the Rock Hall, to the science center, and all the amenities we have along the line."
He also gave other reasons for his optimism.
"I think the future of the line probably is tied to the future of what's going on in the waterfront," he shared. "It may be more of a long-term future as the waterfront redevelopment continues, as the buildings in Flat's East Bank fill up and become full again. This piece of infrastructure is here to support all of that."
Riders like Tate Ferguson — who was on the train Friday for the ceremony — say they'll be catching many rides on it.
"I work down here, I live right across the bridge, so it's a super easy opportunity to just hop into the city and get this extra line," he said. "Cleveland can always use more public transit, so it just gives another opportunity — especially for me, living and working so close by — to connect to things downtown."
The RTA said on the days the Waterfront Line isn't running, they'll continue to perform upgrades until they open it seven days a week sometime next spring or summer. They don't have an exact date for that at this time.