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Streetcar Project Resumes with Rail Delivery
CINCINNATI (Jeff Hirsh) -- Three weeks ago the Cincinnati streetcar barely had a pulse.
But Thursday, the streetcar is full speed ahead, or at least as speedy as a track installation crew can go. Two truckloads of rails were brought in Thursday afternoon, needed to resume construction on the project which was almost killed and then brought back to life.
For streetcar supporters the nightmare on Elm Street, the possibility the project would die, is over.
The streetcar lives.
Rails to re-start construction were brought in Thursday.
Streetcar Construction Engineer, David Krusling, said, "The crews are pretty excited because it's a major project in their home town. It will be around a long time, so it's a point of pride that they worked on the streetcar, and they're excited being back at it."
These rails were almost going back to the factory. Mayor John Cranley wanted to kill the streetcar. Construction was on hold for nearly a month but city council brought the project back after a study showing the cost of shutting down was about the same as the cost of continuing.
The 3.6 mile loop will ultimately connect the Banks, downtown and Over-The-Rhine. Although only about half a mile of track is in so far.
Henry Street will be the end of the line in the sense that the track will come up here and loop around. It will loop around to Race Street, the next major street over there and then it will head downtown. The hope is to start excavation on Race Street in mid January.
Over-the-Rhine construction is actually the easy part. Downtown will be slower going.
"A lot of it is specialty track work. Doing the work on Second Street is a bridge which will take along time. We are currently on schedule to be completed in September of 2016."
Streetcar advocates say the line will spur economic development, with stores, restaurants, and apartments going in along the tracks.
Mt. Auburn resident, John Ellmore, said, "I am so impressed with this unloading and the whole streetcar concept itself. It's such a boost to Cincinnati. So many other cities have good systems."
You could say for streetcar backers this was Christmas a day late. Only instead of getting an electric train which goes around the tree this one will go for 3.6 miles.
The streetcar line was originally supposed to go to uptown near UC but Governor John Kasich pulled 50 million dollars from the project which stopped the extension. Cost of the current Over-The-Rhine to downtown loop is estimated at 133-million dollars.
The streetcar project was saved when the Haile Foundation, along with some other private donors, agreed to pay nine-million dollars to help offset operating costs for the next decade.