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Canton gets a first look at SARTA Pro Football Hall of Fame streetcar plans

Canton streetcar presentation
Anna Huntsman
Ideastream Public Media
Timothy Rosenberger of WSP USA gives a presentation to residents, stakeholders and members of the media about a proposed streetcar that would have stops in downtown Canton, the HOF Village and the Belden Village shopping area on Wednesday, June 15, 2022.

The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) is holding its first public meetings to get input from the community on a proposed streetcar that would connect downtown Canton, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village and the Akron-Canton Airport.

The track would begin downtown with stops at the HOF Village, Belden Village shopping area and the airport, among others, SARTA officials said in a presentation Wednesday at the Constellation Center for Excellence at the HOF Village.

Canton streetcar line
Huntsman, Anna
Ideastream Public Media
A slide shown at WSP's presentation maps out the proposed streetcar line that would run from downtown Canton to the Akron-Canton Airport.

The main goal is to encourage HOF patrons to visit other economic generators and tourism spots in the area, said Timothy Rosenberger, a project manager at the engineering firm WSP USA which has worked with other cities on similar streetcar projects.

Rosenberger led presentations about the project and took questions from residents, stakeholders and the media in two meetings in Canton Wednesday.

The project would likely cost between $50 million and $100 million and would take about 5 years to complete, Rosenberger said.

The plan is to use existing track from the former Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad along I-77, he said, with additional track to be installed in the downtown area. The light rail would consist of five hydrogen-powered streetcars that can hold about 100 people each, he said.

Streetcar service would operate from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Streetcars would stop at the stations every 15 minutes, and the total trip time from the first stop – downtown – to the last stop at the airport would take about 30 minutes, Rosenberger said.

The fare would likely be the same as a SARTA bus ride, about $1.50, he said.

The project is still in early stages. Officials are conducting a feasibility study and getting public input through meetings and surveys, Rosenberger added. The $100,000 feasibility study is funded through federal grants and is expected to be completed in September, he said.

At that point, officials will once again conduct public feedback sessions before determining whether to move forward with the project, he said.

Officials are not yet sure how the project would be paid for, Rosenberger added. They plan to apply for federal transportation grants that would fund 50% to 80% of the project, he said.

Two additional meetings will be held Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Stark County District Library at 715 Market Ave. N, and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at SARTA's Belden Village Transit Center at 4700 Whipple Ave. NW. Those interested can fill out an online survey about the project here.