Mayor: Public Square should remain closed because of increased risk of terror attacks

CLEVELAND-- Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson held a news conference Friday afternoon following a letter from the Federal Transit Administration.

The FTA sent a letter to the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority on Dec. 20, saying it owes $12 million.

In 2004, the FTA awarded RTA more than $142 million for the Euclid Corridor project. But by permanently closing Public Square to bus traffic, the city violated the terms of the grant.

Jackson said there are two main issues with shutting down Public Square to RTA buses: If there are financial or economic hardships, and whether there is potential for terrorists to use vehicles as a way to attack mass groups of people.

The mayor said times have changed since 2004, when the agreement was made, and there is an increased risk for terror attacks. He said leaving the square open seems, "very irresponsible."

"We don't want RTA to be fined. But I don't want 20, 30, 40, 50 people to be run over by a  vehicle in Public Square. I'm not going to acquiesce or agree to something that does not protect the interest of the public. I'm not doing that. And RTA, hopefully, is on the same page," Jackson said.

He also said RTA agreed the square should stay closed.

Jackson said the city has not been told what the breach is or how to address it. According to the FTA, the Cleveland transit authority has 30 days to repay the debt.

"FTA does not believe the city will change its position on the closure of Public Square and allow GCRTA to resume full operations as it is legally obligated to do under the FFGA," the letter said.