Frequently Asked Questions

What is CMAX?

COTA’s first Bus Rapid Transit line, known as CMAX, will connect customers to major destinations along Cleveland Avenue between downtown Columbus and Polaris Parkway/Africa Road. The limited-stop service will complement regular service on COTA’s second busiest line at 64 stops along Cleveland Avenue.

Who is responsible for this project?

COTA is the lead agency with inter-agency collaboration between Federal Transit Administration (FTA), cities of Columbus and Westerville, Franklin County, Clinton and Blendon Townships, Village of Minerva Park, Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC).

How will the project be constructed?

To minimize impacts while maintaining mobility and access within the corridor, construction will occur in four phases. Within each phase, work will be completed on one side of the street, then move to the opposite side to minimize travel impacts. See schedule below (subject to change).

What is the purpose of this project and why is it needed?

The service will link more than 221,000 residents and 170,000 workers along Cleveland Avenue to jobs, healthcare and educational resources and encourage economic development in the corridor. CMAX will provide more travel options for corridor residents visitors and customers including:

  • Faster, more reliable, more comfortable service
  • Economic growth
  • Technological upgrades
  • Community development
  • Improved pedestrian access & safety
  • Premium platforms featuring next-bus arrival information screens
How long will construction take?

CMAX funding is provided by the Federal Transit Administration and COTA. The final estimate for the project is projected at $48.6 million dollars. $38 million dollars of the project cost was appropriated by Congress in December 2015 from FTA’s section 5309 New Starts program for Fiscal Year 2016.

phase 1 (downtown to 24th): august 2016 - january 2017 [install pylons with real-time screens, new shelters, concrete waiting areas, bus pads, fiber & electrical; (Downtown stations include concreted work & installation of pylons at existing COTA shelters)], phase 2 (hudson to cooke): february - april 2017 [install pylons with real-time screens, new shelters, concrete waiting areas, bus bads, fiber & electrical], phase 3 (oakland park to wallcrest): april - june 2017 [install pylons with real-time screens, new shelters, concrete waiting areas, bus bads, fiber & electrical], phase 4 (north of sr 161): june - october 2017 [install pylons with real-time screens, concrete waiting pads & benches at existing COTA shelters], testing: october - december 2017
How long will construction take?

CMAX construction will begin in August 2016 and is expected to be completed by October 2017, with system testing occurring through December 2017. The new CMAX service will begin in January 2018.

When will construction occur?

Work will generally take place during daylight hours between 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Rush hour, weekend and night work will occur as necessary with City approval.

How will the pylons be constructed in Downtown Columbus?

A total of 12 pylons will be constructed on High Street between Main Street and Nationwide Boulevard, and the intersections of Nationwide Boulevard and 3rd Street, and Naghten Street and 5th Street. Five to six pylons will be constructed at a time, each taking approximately two weeks to complete (subject to change). Work includes excavating foundation, preparing subgrade conduit installation, pouring concrete slab, then constructing pylon footer, pedestal and base.

How will the shelters be constructed?

Shelters will be built off site then delivered in segments for installation on-site. Work includes:

  • Demolition and excavation of area
  • Electrical and fiber conduit installation for pylons and shelters
  • Concrete work (shelter foundation, waiting area/street bus pads)
  • Shelter installation


During construction, three lanes of traffic will remain open at all times (two on opposite side of street from construction and one on adjacent side to work being performed). Lane closures will occur for no more than two weeks at a time.

What can I expect during construction and how will this project impact me?

During construction, access to the businesses and residences will remain open at all times. In order to construct the necessary improvements,local property owners and the traveling public may experience:


Flaggers and law enforcement officers will be in place at designated areas to maintain traffic.

A construction liaison will work closely with property owners and occupants throughout construction to inform them of upcoming activities and address concerns.