Cincinnati takes major step towards building modern streetcar system

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and City Manager Milton Dohoney announced that the city has selected the Cincinnati Streetcar Development Partners as the team that will help finance, plan, design, construct, operate and maintain Cincinnati's modern streetcar system.

The announcement was made at the new Rookwood Pottery headquarters in historic Over-the-Rhine. The location is what will be the northern end of the Downtown/OTR circulator which will serve to connect Uptown to the center city. Rookwood Pottery is an "enthusiastic" supporter of the Cincinnati Streetcar project and was more than happy to welcome the couple hundred people that showed up to hear the news.

The crowd was not only robust, but diverse as well. Representatives from the Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce, various City of Cincinnati departments, Model Group, Cincinnati Beer Company, Metro, Cincy Energy Alliance, Mercantile Library, Hodges Law Group, Downtown Cincinnati Inc. and a slew of local business owners and investors were on hand to show their support.

The excitement was notable as Mayor Mallory and City Manager Dohoney arrived. The crowd was buzzing in anticipation of what was to be announced. This excitement continued as a large group of attendees walked over to Market Wines at Findlay Market to continue the conversation.

Cincinnati Streetcar Development Partners is made up of twelve companies that each specialize in a different aspect that will help lead to the successful implementation of the streetcar system. The team is made up of local and non-local companies that have been involved with roughly 80 percent of all recent streetcar and light rail projects in the United States, including projects in San Francisco, New York City, Atlanta, Portland, Seattle and Cleveland.

Members of the team have also been involved with local projects such as Great American Ballpark, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the restructuring of Fort Washington Way - which came in on time and under budget.

One of the companies represented is Stacy and Witbeck Inc. (SWI) who is considered to be the "premier streetcar and passenger transit rail construction company in the United States." There involvement in the Cincinnati Streetcar project will be their first in the Midwest. As a result, SWI will open a new office downtown and relocate their executives to Cincinnati specifically for this project.

The team will also consist of local companies including Jostin Concrete Construction, DNK Architects, Megan Construction Company, Property Advisors, Wordsworth Communications and G.J. Berding Inc. The Cincinnati Streetcar Development Partners will be led by Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc. (PB) who will also serve as the project manager. PB has led several local transit projects in the past and has a sterling record.

The city currently has $78 million in requests to the federal government, which, according to City Manager Dohoney, will be absolutely necessary in the implementation of the Cincinnati Streetcar system.

Reports in April cited that millions of private dollars have been raised thus far. According to the city's Budget Director, Explore Cincinnati also discovered several organizations have been raising private funds that have not yet been deposited into the city's account for the project.

This revised funding strategy is a response to the national economic downturn say city officials. The city has also established a new website for the Cincinnati Streetcar that also includes an online location where streetcar supporters can make private contributions to the project.

The selection of the team that will design, build and operate the Cincinnati Streetcar system is a major step forward for the project.

"The leaders of this city are taking this city's future seriously," says program manager Fred Craig who continues, "we are seeing a new generation working to make Cincinnati a better place."

Craig went on to say that he and the development team welcome community input and emphasized that this is a project that should be driven by the community. Craig went as far as to say that if you have any suggestions regarding the project that you should call him personally and let him know (513-639-2100).

Writer: Randy Simes
Source: City of Cincinnati
Photography by Randy Simes and Scott Beseler
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.