Connected: Red Line Greenway opens, linking a two-mile trail to downtown Cleveland

Yesterday, Wednesday, May 12, the Cleveland Metroparks officially opened the long-awaited Red Line Greenway, the nearly two-mile paved all-purpose trail that runs from the Michael J. Zone Recreation Center in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood to downtown Cleveland.  

<span class="content-image-text">Ribbon Cutting at the Red Line Greenway Trailhead Opening</span>Ribbon Cutting at the Red Line Greenway Trailhead OpeningThe Red Line Greenway has been in the works for the past 40 years, with construction starting in late 2019. It has evolved into a scenic pathway that connects eight neighborhoods and two RTA Red Line Rapid stations along its route from Zone center to the Centennial Lake Link Trail at Franklin Avenue and Columbus Road.

Additionally, RTA acting CEO and Chief Operations Officer Floun’say Caver points out that the trail is served by several bus routes to enhance commuter options.

Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman adds that the project is a result of a community effort. “We’re really excited to bring forth the vision of many volunteers and many civic leaders over the last few decades,” says Zimmerman. “This new accessible trail is breaking transportation barriers that have existed for decades and will improve access to and from downtown.”

Additional access points include West 44th Street, West 41st Street, West 25th Street and Columbus Road near Abbey and Franklin Avenues.

The trail uses former Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) right-of-way along the Red Line to provide a linear urban trail with additional pull-off areas for passive recreation, picnicking and more. The project also includes a robust planting of native trees as well as landscaping along the length of the trail.

The Red Line Greenway began as a concept that started in the 70s when an RTA Rapid passenger traveling from the airport on the Red Line thought a trail would make a better first impression than the debris-lined landscape. The Rotary Club of Cleveland adopted the idea and has been involved ever since—leading the way to make sure the Red Line Greenway became a reality.
“I want to thank our project partners including the Rotary Club of Cleveland for helping to maintain this area over the past four decades,” said RTA’s Caver in a statement. “We could not be more pleased with the end result and its impacts on our city.”

<span class="content-image-text">Red Line Greenway Trailhead Opening</span>Red Line Greenway Trailhead OpeningDesigned by Michael Baker International and built by Mark Haynes Construction, Inc., the $6 million Red Line Greenway project was funded in part with U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant funds.

Other project partners that joined the Metroparks at the ribbon cutting yesterday on Columbus Road include LAND studio, The Trust for Public Land, RTA, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), and the Cleveland Rotary Club.

“There are so many partners and so much community involvement to make this possible,” says Zimmerman. “And without RTA’s support, that trail would not be possible.”

The accessible Red Line Greenway trail provides a major east-west connector route as part of the overall Re-Connecting Cleveland project that is expected to be completed next month. The project is thanks to a 2016 $7.95 million TIGER grant to construct five trail projects over four miles that will fill critical gaps in Cleveland’s transportation network.

“It’s really part of an interconnected system that allows people to connect with schools, work, shopping, parks, and the lakefront,” says Zimmerman.

Completed TIGER grant projects include the Canal Basin Park Connector and the Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway Connector. The Whiskey Island Connector and Wendy Park Bridge projects are expected to be completed next month.

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.