Construction crews recently began installing the first overhead wires for the Cincinnati Streetcar. The initial installations took place just over a week ago in Over-the-Rhine. It marks the first time in more than 50 years that overhead streetcar wires have been in place over Cincinnati streets.
During the early discussions about this starter line for the modern streetcar system, skeptics had charged that the overhead wires would serve as an eyesore and a target for vandals. While it is too early to tell if vandals will have any interest in tampering with the overhead wires, it is now evident just non-intrusive overhead wires are for modern transit systems.
Unlike the systems from over a half-century ago, sleek poles support a single neatly strung wire over the street. Also unlike overhead wires of past, this wire will be strung approximately 19 feet above the ground in order to make it more resistant to tampering, and to keep the live current safely away from pedestrians and cyclists below.
Accordingly, the construction of the starter streetcar line is also bringing all new traffic signals and utility poles to the streets along the route.
Following the same pattern as track installation, the first overhead wires were installed along Elm Street near Washington Park. The overhead wire system will carry a 750-volt direct current that will provide the power to run the streetcar vehicles, and project officials say that it will be installed in a slight zig-zag pattern above the streetcar track in order to make sure the pantograph on the streetcar vehicles wears evenly over time.
The above video was put together by CitiCable in its ongoing documentation of streetcar construction work.