Streetcar project expands with new funding

UPDATE: The Fiscal Year TIGER III grants have been released, and it is official: The Cincinnati Streetcar has received funding to complete Phase 1 with the Riverfront Loop. Along with a transit building upgrade in Cleveland, the Cincinnati Streetcar project was the only other Ohio project to be awarded money. Out of 848 applicants, the project was one of 46 to move forward with funding.

Undisclosed Congressional sources notified UrbanCincy Monday that the shovel-ready Cincinnati Streetcar project will receive 10.9 million dollars in funding from the federal TIGER III grant. As reported earlier in November, the city applied for $58 million in funding through the program, to restore the project to its original aim of connecting the Uptown and Downtown employment centers. The $10.9 million will potentially be able to expand the adjusted route down to the Banks.

“This TIGER III grant was awarded on a competitive basis and shows that the Cincinnati Streetcar is one of the best transportation projects in the country for generating economic development and putting Cincinnatians back to work,” said CincyStreetcar blog founder and local transit expert Brad Thomas.

Over $50 million of the project’s original funding was cut by Governor Kasich’s office in April for other much lower ranked projects, including a bus line in Canton, Ohio.

According to Transportation Issues Daily, no other cities in Ohio have received funds from the grant. However, TRAC director and former asphalt lobbyist Jerry Wray wrote a letter of recommendation for a TIGER III grant to widen 3.75 miles of roadway in Pickaway County, Ohio. Despite major pushback at the state level, local support has never been stronger with the new election of 7 pro-streetcar council-members.

Council-member, OTR resident and ardent supporter Chris Seelbach told UrbanCincy, “IF the news is correct, as the Business Courier is reporting, then it’s great news! The goal was always to connect Cincinnati’s two biggest job centers, downtown and uptown. Only when Governor Kasich cut the State’s funding was the route shortened. I’m hopeful this new funding source will again allow us to have fixed rail from the stadiums to the University of Cincinnati and hospitals, and everywhere in between.”

Cincinnati Streetcar picture by 5chw4r7z.

  • PolToja

    Nothing is going to hold our city back!

  • Rob Jaques

    Woooo!!

  • Ryan L

    This is great news if it is true! I was really disappointed that the Banks extension was cut (though I understand it was necessary).

    Will the streetcar still have a line that goes across Government Square so that it avoids the headaches after Reds games? I know it would convenient to go to the stadium, but will it be able to move with the sea of people leaving after the games?

  • 2LiveCarew

    This is actually great news, even though it’s only a fraction of the funding that was available. Requests for funding from the TIGER III grants outstripped available funds on a 27 to 1 ratio, according to this article: http://dc.streetsblog.org/2011/11/15/tiger-iii-requests-out-number-available-funding-27-to-1/

    Definitely still wish it would’ve been the full-fledged initial plan, but this is still a big win.

  • http://matthunterross.com Matt

    Yes!

    Though there has to be a way to pull in some more private funds for that Clifton line. Seriously – UC, 3CDC, someone!

  • CincyCapell

    GREAT news to be sure! Can’t wait to see Mark Miller & The COAST losers heads collextively explode at the news!!

  • J

    Another WIN for the city.

  • http://5chw4r7z.com 5chw4r7z

    Cincinnati has been going from one strength to another lately.
    Now lets get the thing built.

  • Rocky Mountain High

    Great news for the city! Can’t wait to ride this streetcar.

  • http://www.urban-out.com Greg Meckstroth

    According to my UO sources, the streetcar won’t go south of 2nd Street. So it won’t officially reach the stadiums on Front Street (Freedom Way).

  • http://5chw4r7z.blogspot.com/ 5chw4r7z

    Greg, The entrance to Great American Ballpark is at Main & 2nd.

  • Bremen@14th

    Does anyone know how the streetcar will be routed during events downtown? ie: Oktoberfest, parades and anything else that blocks off streets? Since the streetcar can’t be rerouted will it pass through the events?

  • COAST

    This won’t get built. Pure political posturing by the Mayor.

    It would have already been built by now if it was feasible. We’re going to make sure this project sees delay after delay after delay until it is back down the toilet where it belongs

    Have a good day yups

  • Schmiez

    If applying, and receiving, money to help the city is posturing, then posture away Mallory.

    Anyway, good question on re-routing. Guesses? probably 7th? Was never a huge fan of the OK-fest setup as it was.

  • Sunbelt Transplant

    Since this grant only covers part of the State’s cut, I only wish it would be used to extend the starter line closer to the University than the River. The Banks seem to have more immediate tax capacity to pay for their extension, separate from this grant.

  • Dustin C

    @Sunbelt Transplant – I agree with you that the connection to Uptown UC would bring in more property tax $$. However, being $10 million, rather than the $50 something applied for, the money is only enough to take it to the Banks. I believe the Uptown Route would cost $40-60 Million b/c it would have to navigate up the 8%+ grade of Vine from Schwartz Points to Short Vine. But perhaps the City could leverage some $$ from the hospitals, UC, 3CDC and such to take it up there, as mention by someone in a previous post.

  • http://urbancincy.com/author/randysimes Randy A. Simes

    This funding restores the original proposed route of the Cincinnati Streetcar. The Uptown Connector was only added later due to requests made by Roxanne Qualls and other members of City Council.

    My understanding is that the Uptown Connector retains its Phase 1B status just as the plan always was. While work is progressing on Phase 1A (Central Riverfront to northern Over-the-Rhine), you will see work to secure funding and progress on design work for Phase 1B.

  • http://urbancincy.com/author/randysimes Randy A. Simes

    The bottom line though is that the federal government continues view this project as one of the best transit investments in the United States. If the reports hold true and the Cincinnati Streetcar receives $10.9M in TIGER III grant money, that would equate to approximately 5.5% of the total money awarded.

    It also speaks to the value of this project that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is scheduled to make the announcement of TIGER III grant winners in Cincinnati tomorrow afternoon.

  • http://zacharyschunn.blogspot.com Zachary Schunn

    Certainly great news!

    It will be interesting to see the finalized plans/schedule, along with proposed funding sources and a schedule for Phase 1B.

    Stopping at 2nd Street is certainly a great improvement over Govt. Square, and prevents the city from ripping up the tracks after they’re built for a Banks extension. I wish it went all the way to the river, but 2nd St. is certainly much closer.

    And concerning Oktoberfest, my guess is they’ll probably keep the streetcar running but still re-route buses. One streetcar line is very different from a whole ton of buses converging on Govt. Square, from both planning and safety standpoints.

  • GoCOAST

    Horrible waste of taxpayer money.

    We will see you guys in court soon

  • Rob Jaques

    “GoCOAST

    Posted December 15, 2011 at 2:18 pm | #

    Horrible waste of taxpayer money.

    We will see you guys in court soon”

    Oh yeah? What is it this time?

  • http://urbancincy.com/author/randysimes Randy A. Simes

    I wouldn’t be surprised if events like Taste of Cincinnati and Oktoberfest are moved to the Smale Riverfront Park once fully completed. They would be able to hold longer festivals due to less traffic disruption, and utilize a terrific park asset.

  • http://acincinnatihistory.blogspot.com Matt

    ^ I wouldn’t be surprised either…though, then why haven’t they already moved those events to Sawyer Point? There’s something to be said for having some big events in the heart of downtown, on the square. What about the Flying Pig, or anything else that holds up traffic? I predict they stay downtown somewhere.

  • lisa

    I am just rejoicing in this good news for Cincinnati. this is a beautiful city and it deserves this. Won’t let the naysayers bring us down. I’m from up north where this kind of news is a call to be happy. movin’ on up Cinci.

  • http://5chw4r7z.blogspot.com/ 5chw4r7z

    If the city was smart they’d run the streetcar for free for Taste and Oktoberfest. The PR for it and getting everyone in and out smoothly would be worth it.

  • Dennis

    Will the street car stop on top/near the Transit Center underneath the Banks, or will it still be a ways to walk to the station.

  • Rob Jaques

    The Transit Center is under 2nd Street. The Streetcar will travel on and have a stop on 2nd Street.

  • James D. Partin

    Cincinnati can now move forward. New growth in areas of retail, restaurants, housing and business development can occur. I would like to also see high speed rail linking Columbus, Cleveland, Chicago Louisville, and Lexington.