Cincinnati streetcar

Provided/City of Cincinnati

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) continues to insist federal guidelines prevent it from releasing the details about the proposals it has received to operate the city's streetcar system.

provided / City of Cincinnati

Work on the streetcar tracks will cause some traffic disruptions for the next three days.  Third Street will be closed between Walnut and Vine, and Walnut will be closed between Third and Fourth Streets starting Thursday night at 7, as contractors install rails.

Jay Hanselman / WVXU

As the Cincinnati Chamber prepares for this year's Taste of Cincinnati, vice president Pat Sheeran says it's not looking to move the food festival to accommodate the streetcar. 

Last week, Mayor John Cranley said the streetcar, when operational, would not supersede downtown events like Taste and Oktoberfest.  Sheeran says the chamber is happy the events won't have to move.

Provided / SORTA

The latest controversy with the Cincinnati streetcar project involves what happens to special events along the Downtown and Over-the-Rhine route.  

A report from WCPO Digital Wednesday said a city memo from last year indicated “no special event will be permitted to halt, close, delay or otherwise disrupt streetcar service.”  

Provided / SORTA

Cincinnati officials could be looking to plug about a $500,000 hole in the streetcar operating budget.  

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, which will run the system, now estimates fare revenues will be about $675,000 a year.  That is less than an earlier estimate of $1 million.  
 

Part of the reduction could be in how fares are charged.  SORTA is planning for $1 for a two-hour pass.  Earlier studies were based on $1 per trip.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Second Street is closed between Vine and Main as crews install a curved piece of streetcar track.  Project Executive John Deatrick says it will be closed for two weeks because of the complicated nature of the construction.

“Traffic is difficult, but this is technically very difficult work,” Deatrick says.  “Putting in expansion boxes that allow the rail to slip back and forth against each other but yet keep the streetcar on the tracks when you pass over a bridge expansion joint.”

Those joints allow for expansion and contraction during hot and cold weather. 

Provided / SORTA

Construction work continues on the first phase of the Cincinnati streetcar project despite lots of snow and cold temperatures.  Crews once again plan to work on track at a busy downtown intersection this weekend. 

Project executive John Deatrick said that construction has been delayed twice because of the weather.

“The rail will start Friday night at 7 p.m., Fifth Street will be closed because we can’t put the rail down half at a time in the intersection,” Deatrick said.  “We have to do the whole intersection at one go.”

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Crews this week are putting up the overhead wires in Over-the-Rhine that will power the Cincinnati streetcar.  Crews worked Wednesday along Elm Street, between 14th and Henry. 

Jay Hanselman / WVXU

  With the holiday season out of the way, contractors are again laying track for the Cincinnati streetcar. 

And this weekend, they will close a major Downtown intersection.  6th Street will be closed at Walnut, starting at 6 p.m. Friday.  And it will stay closed until about 6 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Provided / SORTA

Cincinnati officials now say the contingency budget for the city's streetcar project is estimated to be $1.3 million.  That is up from the $80,000 reported about a month ago.  

Officials updated a council committee Tuesday on the project.
 
“We have better information and more concrete information upon which to project those expenses,” said Chris Eilerman, a city official working on the project who explained the changes.  “Based on that we’ve been able to hone in on better numbers and the result is what you see here.”

Ann Thompson / WVXU

Fifteen months after it began, the track loop for the Cincinnati Streetcar in Over the Rhine is now finished.

Just after 9:00 Monday morning workers welded the track together on Race Street between Elder and Green Streets, just south of Findlay Market.

This is the track that will serve as the test track for the first streetcar vehicles when they arrive in the fall of 2015. Workers still have to install overhead power lines and poles in OTR.

Provided / SORTA

The team managing the city's streetcar project is being asked to take a look at the remaining construction items and decide what's needed and what can be left out to save money.  

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Cincinnati's mayor and city manager will be meeting with the streetcar team this week to discuss the dwindling amount of money in the contingency fund.  If all worst case scenarios happen, the fund could have just $80,000 left in it.  It started out with more than $9 million. 

Mayor John Cranley says the message to streetcar officials John Deatrick and Chris Eilerman is this: "We need to have a team that's going to bring the streetcar in on time and under budget, or we need a new team."

Provided / SORTA

The SORTA board of trustees has signed off on an operating and maintenance agreement for the streetcar.  Cincinnati Council has already approved the agreement, which spells out the responsibilities of the transit authority and the city.

The new streetcar logo was also unveiled Tuesday.

Under terms of the agreement, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority will make an annual funding request to the city to cover operating costs.  The city will collect the funds from fares, advertising revenue, parking fees, and from property tax abatement offset revenue.

provided / Metro

The former head of Atlanta’s streetcar project is now the chief executive officer of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority.

The SORTA Board approved Dwight Ferrell as the new CEO Tuesday morning.

Ferrell comes to the Cincinnati area from Fulton County, Georgia, where he served as county manager since October 2013.  Before that, he was the deputy general manager and chief operating officer of MARTA, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority for four years.

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