Ten years ago we opened the HeathLine. It was the culmination of 50 years of planning, three years of design, and four years of construction. I was asked to comment on the construction of the project and a lot of thoughts came to mind – the magnitude, the deadlines, the designers and contractors, the conflicts and coordination, the adjacent property and business owners, the critics and the advocates, the oversight and scrutiny, the media, and, most importantly, the team that accomplished bringing the HealthLine to life.
Our Engineering and Project Management team came to the project for many reasons: a career capstone project before retiring, a major milestone, or a stepping-stone to bigger projects and responsibility. For me, constructing the HealthLine was the reason I joined GCRTA, but for all of us, it was the challenge to build GCRTA’s largest and most significant project.
There were many challenges associated with the project and dealing with the coordination of seven contractors, working around 21 utilities, buying 235 parcels of property, processing over 450 change orders, and herding seven artists was no small task. In the first year of construction, we created a 2.3 mile “transit zone” on Superior and St. Clair Avenues introducing the first bus-only lanes in Cleveland. Over the next three years we completed the big work of our urban core infrastructure investment, reconstructing 7.1 miles of Euclid Avenue and essentially creating what we all now know of as the HealthLine. That work included new waterlines, gas lines, underground electric and fiber optic lines, traffic signal system, street lights, public art, landscaping, paving, curbs, medians, sidewalks, bike lanes, and stations. It was not easy, but our team was dedicated and up to the task, completing the HealthLine two months ahead of schedule and under budget.
Ten years later and the HealthLine is the standard for Bus Rapid Transit projects around the country. It is the catalyst for over $9.5 billion in projects constructed and planned adjacent to the HealthLine. Most importantly it has provided faster, cleaner, safer and more reliable transit service to over 44 million customers and that is why we built the HealthLine.