Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cincinnati streetcar trackwork to start soon

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Tracks for Cinncinnati's initial streetcar line will begin being laid in mid-October, a month ahead of schedule, beginning on Elm Street near Memorial Hall, city officials and streetcar advocates say.

"They're starting north of the Central Business District, at 12th and Elm in Over-the-Rhine," one source told Railway Age. "From there, they will build north to Findlay Market and the car barn, then turn south to get back to 12th and Race. They will then close that loop and have a 1.5-mile test and training track in Over-the-Rhein as they continue building south into the CBD.

Cincinnati already has begun installing new water mains adjacent to the route, doing exploratory digging at various points, and installing sanitary and storm sewers on Elm Street. Duke Energy, which for more than a year had protested expectations of paying for utility adjustments before reaching a resolution with the city last winter, also is proceeding with gas and electric utility work.

The city hopes to complete the 4.4-mile, $110 million project in time to begin operations Sept. 15, 2016. Test running of CAF USA streetcars is targeted for March 2016.

Opposition from suburban counties and state officials also has slowed progress on the streetcar project, countered by strong support from federal sources.

As a result, “Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game will be in Cincinnati in July 2015, and there’s a stop near Great American Ball Park. Too bad the streetcar won’t be finished by then,” the source lamented.