Groundbreaking Marks Return of Cincinnati Streetcar

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor Streetcars were the main form of public transportation in Cincinnati at the turn of the 20th century. In 1951,  after nearly a century of horse-drawn, steam-powered and electrical vehicles, the original streetcar system was dismantled. But the [...]

Streetcars were the main form of public transportation in Cincinnati at the turn of the 20th century. In 1951,  after nearly a century of horse-drawn, steam-powered and electrical vehicles, the original streetcar system was dismantled. But the idea of a streetcar system reasserted itself in the late ’90s, and on Feb. 17–after years of studies and debate–work finally started on the controversial streetcar project.

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. and other officials attended the groundbreaking ceremony at Memorial Hall on Elm Street, in Over-the-Rhine. City officials turned over cobblestones along Elm Street, signifying the start of the development, in front of an energetic crowd of streetcar supporters

The Cincinnati streetcar is a $110 million transportation project. The almost four-mile-long route, with 17 stops, will connect the Findlay Market in the historic Over-the-Rhine district to the Banks redevelopment project in the Riverfront area. The streetcar will run on a pair of single tracks. Its depot will be located near Findlay Market.

The first phase of construction will include a four-month project to move water lines below city streets. Crews will probably start laying tracks by late summer or fall. Track construction is expected to take about three weeks per block, with crews working on several areas at the same time.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is giving a total of $39.9 million to the Cincinnati streetcar project:  $10.9 million in TIGER III funds, $25 million from the Federal Transit Administration’s Urban Circulator grant program and $4 million from a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant. Local funding sources will cover the remaining cost.

The fare has not yet been determined. Cincinnatians will be able to ride the streetcar in 2014. An anticipated 3,700 trips per day during its first year in operation are expected to help revitalize neighborhoods along its route, create new jobs and improve the local economy.

Image courtesy of Metro Bus via Wikimedia Commons.