Cincinnati awarded $25M for modern streetcar system through Urban Circulator program

Thursday, July 8, 2010 might go down in history as the day that the long-planned Cincinnati Streetcar project finally became reality.  While no construction has begun, city officials did successfully land $25 million through the federal government's Urban Circulators grant program.  The additional money means that the project now has $114.5 million of the total $128 million needed, making it approximately 90 percent funded.

The grant was announced by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood who said that Cincinnati's recent $64 million commitment was a large factor in the project getting the maximum award through the program.  The Cincinnati Streetcar was one of only six urban circulator proposals awarded money nationally out of 65 applications that totaled more than $1 billion in requests.  The other five projects are located in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Ft. Worth, and St. Louis.

"This announcement illustrates the broad-based support for the streetcar at all levels of government," said Brad Thomas, Founder, CincyStreetcar.com. "Transportation experts at the city, regional, state and federal level have all examined the Cincinnati Streetcar and have come to the same conclusion - it is a worthwhile project that they support."

The news has also seemingly quieted an intense battle between those in favor of the project and those against.

"The Cincinnati Streetcar represents the triumph of a huge grassroots effort of concerned Cincinnatians," Thomas continued.  "This success of this project was truly the result of countless ordinary citizens standing up and working to make their city a better place to live."

City officials are now working on the next phases of the project which include environmental assessments, utility relocation, and preliminary construction which is expected to begin this fall.  Once under construction, the project should take approximately two-and-a-half years to complete, with the first passengers riding in spring 2013.

In the interim, local leaders are reveling in the success and progress that has been achieved thus far.

"This is great news for Cincinnati.  Having the federal government come in as a partner on our streetcar shows that we have one of the best plans in the country," Mayor Mark Mallory said.  "This is why it is important to go out and engage decision makers directly.  Secretary LaHood told me that we got this grant because of the leadership that we showed in pursuing this money."

Writer: Randy A. Simes
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