A friendly reminder

This is a friendly reminder about why to vote against the Anti-Passenger Rail Amendment and support the Cincinnati Streetcar, 3C Corridor and Midwest Regional high-speed rail projects, and the Eastern Corridor project.

The Alliance for Regional Transit is taking another group to Portland to see a diversified transit system first-hand. The trip will be taking place from July 23 through 24 and is rumored to once again have another star-studded list of travelers. It must be a giant coincidence or one giant conspiracy that virtually everyone who has gone on the trip, or studied these systems themselves, are all strong supporters of the Cincinnati Streetcar and a larger diversified transit system for the Cincinnati region.

Business News Transportation

Could streetcars be manufactured right here in the Midwest?

On July 1 the United States celebrated the completion of the first American-made streetcar. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood was in Portland to celebrate the moment.

The Infrastructurist points out that Oregon Iron Works felt like they could be profitable producing the modern streetcars, and feel that they are already producing a superior product than what is being produced overseas. CincyStreetcar says that this event illustrates two important issues.

“The first is that public transportation is not a partisan issue; both sides of the aisle benefit from increased public transportation. The second is the progress other cities around the country are making with increasing their transportation options and the positive returns on their investments.”

When examining this news one could also speculate on what this could mean for Cincinnati as it develops one of the first streetcar systems in the Midwest region of the United States.

Last month when the City announced the selection of the development team that will help finance, plan, design, construct, operate and maintain Cincinnati’s modern streetcar system they also announced that Cincinnati Streetcar Development Team partner, Stacy and Witbeck Inc., will be opening a new office in downtown Cincinnati and will also be relocating their executives to Cincinnati specifically for this project.

First American-made streetcar in Portland, Oregon – image from United Streetcar, LLC

Could the same also happen in regards to the production of streetcar vehicles in a state and region that was built on manufacturing and could easily produce streetcars with the existing infrastructure and talent in place here?

Columbus and Cleveland have recently examined streetcar systems for their cities. Milwaukee recently received tens of millions of federal dollars to build a three-mile modern streetcar system in their city that is being seen as a started line to a much larger, city-wide system (similar to Cincinnati’s effort). St. Louis and Minneapolis currently boast light rail that has vehicles similar to streetcars and could potentially be produced on the same line. Indianapolis is working on a light rail system there that would also fit into this category.

With all of these existing and future systems in the Midwest, it would seem reasonable to have a manufacturer for those vehicles right here. Could Cincinnati or Ohio attract such a firm, or grow one of their own so that it starts producing streetcar and light rail vehicles in one of the many plants we have that used to produce automobiles?

Development News Politics

Building a great city

A recent comment by John Schneider got me thinking about this concept. Schneider said the following comment in reference to a recent trip he made to Portland, OR.

“The quality of the new buildings, starting at the airport and evident throughout the city, the mass of people walking the sidewalks, on the streetcars, and at events, was amazing. They are building a great city there.”

Cincinnati for the longest time was building a great city. Our park system, boulevard network and grand collection of diverse architectural styles has always been impressive. Cincinnati is considered to be the birthplace of contemporary American urban planning when it became the first major American city to endorse a comprehensive plan in 1925 that complimented the Park Plan of 1907 that we still follow today.

Our urban environment was methodically planned out and carried out with the highest quality until about the mid-twentieth century when we started engaging in the urban renewal and suburban sprawl policies sweeping the nation.

New Columbia Square development in the heart of the historic Columbia Tusculum NBD

Cincinnati is not certainly alone in this regard, but what can be done to counter this trend. I think most of us can agree that the quality of buildings, the urban form, social and cultural institutions pale in comparison to what we used to build here in Cincinnati.

Cities like Portland, Seattle and even Charlotte to a lesser extent seem to be getting it right with their recent actions. Their history does not come close to Cincinnati’s and they will never be able to boast many of the amenities we have today, but we have lost much and they are building great cities today, while we seem to be content with building sub-par city based around anything but the people who live here.

New development in (clockwise from top-left):
Seattle, Washington; Portland’s Pearl District; Charlotte’s South End
Seattle & Portland photos by Jake Mecklenborg