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Cincinnati submits $56.8M TIGER III application to fund modern streetcar extension

Construction on the first phase of the Cincinnati Streetcar will begin in the coming months throughout Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. A new $56.8 million request for TIGER III funds would allow the city to restore the project’s Uptown Connector and Riverfront Loop components that had been eliminated due to budget constraints.

Local governments across the United States are in the process of competing for $527 million worth of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) III funds. The deadline for applications was October 31, and the City of Cincinnati once again has applied for funds.

Cincinnati’s TIGER III application requests $56.8 million for phase one of the Cincinnati Streetcar. City officials say that the money will go to immediately restore the project’s segments that were eliminated following Governor Kasish’s (R) controversial reallocation of $52 million in early 2011.

“These funds would be used to restore the critical Riverfront Loop and Uptown Connector components that were removed from the original phase one,” said Department of Transportation & Engineering (DOTE) planner Melissa McVay.

Rendering of a modern streetcar heading north along Main Street towards Uptown [LEFT]. Rendering of a modern streetcar in front of Great American Ball Park along the riverfront [RIGHT].

The two segments city officials hope to restore are estimated to cost $56.8 million – exactly matching the City’s TIGER III request. Planners say that the dollar amounts include construction, utilities, two trains, project administration, contingency, and the remaining design elements.

The prospects for winning the TIGER III funding appear much brighter following the defeat of Issue 48. The Charter amendment would have banned the City from making any investments in rail transportation for the next decade, and many feared would have been the proverbial nail in the coffin for the Cincinnati Streetcar. Instead, Issue 48 was defeated and a super-majority of streetcar supporters was elected to City Council.

“Should the city win this federal grant, the Cincinnati Streetcar will not only benefit the thousands of residents, and tens of thousands of workers on its current route, but also connect the approximately 40,000 students at UC with the growing number of entertainment destinations along the riverfront,” explained Brad Thomas, Founder, CincyStreetcar Blog.

The City of Cincinnati was unsuccessful with two previous TIGER applications in 2009 and 2010. TIGER III grant winners are expected to be announced by the end of 2011.

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.