Construction begins on Cincinnati streetcar line

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Feb. 17 helped kick off construction of a new 3.9-mile streetcar line that will spur Cincinnati’s efforts to revitalize its downtown core by improving access to major employers, the developing riverfront, and many area attractions.

Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff and Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory joined LaHood at the event.

“President Obama called on us to rebuild America by putting people back to work on transportation projects that are built to last, like Cincinnati’s modern streetcar line,” said LaHood in a written statement. “All across America, there is work like this to be done that will improve our transit systems, highways, railways, airports and ports for years to come. At this make-or-break moment for the middle class, we can afford to do no less.”

The Cincinnati streetcar will connect Cincinnati’s riverfront and downtown employers with Findlay Market and the Over-the Rhine historic district, revitalizing neighborhoods along the route, and giving people greater mobility and access to jobs and services.

“The Cincinnati streetcar line fits perfectly with the city’s vision to transform the riverfront into a vibrant and desirable destination, while improving access to jobs and attractions like the Great American Ballpark and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center,” said Rogoff in a press release. â€śIn Cincinnati, and all across Ohio, people need to know they can count on the funds being available for future transit projects like this that offer an alternative to sitting in traffic or paying more at the pump.”

In his FY 2013 budget proposal, President Obama indicated that half the funds saved from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would be used to pay down the debt, and the other half would help to fund a six-year transportation plan that would allow for nation-building here in the United States.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is contributing a total of $39.9 million to the Cincinnati streetcar project, including $10.9 million in TIGER III funds that LaHood announced in December; $25 million from FTA’s Urban Circulator grant program; and $4 million from a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant. The remaining cost of the project is being covered by local funding sources.