This message is a guest post from the City of Cincinnati.
Cincinnati – Today, City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. announced that the Cincinnati Streetcar project has passed the next set of “greenlights” as the project moves forward. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) found the Cincinnati streetcar will have no significant environmental impact along the route. In addition, the City and the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), which operates Metro buses, also reached an agreement for the local transit agency to receive all federal monies for the project.
The “finding of no significant impact” (FONSI) from the FTA means the streetcar will not have a negative impact on the people or buildings along the route. The FONSI clears the way for the streetcar project to use the $29 million of federal money already allocated. It also allows the project team to begin the next steps in bidding out work for the general contractors and the cars themselves.
“The federal government has examined the project and given it a full green light,” said City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. “We continue on the path to build the streetcar to help grow the local economy, bring jobs, and revitalize key areas for the city.”
SORTA has agreed to serve as the designated recipient for all federal funds for the streetcar and to oversee the use of federal dollars in compliance with FTA requirements. The City’s goal is for Metro to serve as the operator for the streetcar system, allowing Metro to seamlessly integrate its bus system with the streetcar lines as they are developed.
The first segment of the streetcar system will have five cars running along a three-mile route from Fountain Square to Findlay Market. The City has already identified more than $4 million in annual funding sources to cover the anticipated $2.5 million operating and maintenance costs for the system. The City has committed to the streetcar line running from The Banks to Uptown, the area around the University of Cincinnati, hospitals and zoo.
The City is exploring the possibility of using a battery-powered hybrid streetcar that could lower the total cost of the project.
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First Phase Shorter, Long-term Vision the Same: Riverfront to the Zoo
Today, Mayor Mark Mallory and City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. announced a revised construction plan for the Cincinnati Streetcar project that will use the $99 million in funding that has already been identified and secured. Under the adjusted plan, the City will move forward with a $95 million, four-mile, first segment of the Streetcar line from Fountain Square to Findlay Market.
“The vision for the project remains the same. We are going to build a Streetcar that connects Downtown to Uptown and then we are going to build out into the neighborhoods,” Mayor Mark Mallory said. “We are going to get started with the funding that we have in hand. We must move forward in order to attract jobs and residents to our region.”
The Mayor and Manager explained that it would cost $9 million to extend the Streetcar line from Fountain Square to The Banks. They are continuing to explore additional funding options in order to get to The Banks during construction of the first segment.
Even as the City begins building the first segment of the Streetcar system, planning will begin on the second segment, which will go up Vine Street and around the Uptown, university and hospital area. The City will continue to pursue additional funding for the second segment. In the future, additional connections into more neighborhoods are envisioned as part of a city-wide system.
“We know that 80 other cities across the country are in the planning stages of a streetcar system. We know that we are losing young professionals to cities that have urban amenities. We know that Cincinnati has more than 500 vacant buildings in Over-the-Rhine and as well as 92 acres of land devoted to parking. When you look at the big picture, we have need and capacity for growth,” City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. said.
The streetcar will run 18 hours a day, 365 days a year. SORTA will be the operator, and the line will have five cars. The first segment is expected to create more than 300 construction jobs and 25 permanent jobs needed for ongoing operations.
The Mayor and City Manager explained how the estimated $2.5 million annual operating cost for the first segment would be funded, emphasizing that no General Fund operating dollars would be used. In fact, the operations plan identifies far more that the needed $2.5 million in order to build an operations reserve that will further protect the General Fund. This will ensure that the Streetcar never competes for funding with essential services such as police and fire protection or trash pick-up. The funding sources include.
• Casino revenue – $3 million
• Parking Meter revenue $400,000
• Fare Box – $465,000 – $675,000
• Naming rights, Sponsored stops – $200,000
The next steps in the project include, finalizing the final engineering design of the project, completing the federal environmental process, working with utility companies on relocation issues, selecting the Streetcar vehicle. The City is now exploring the possibility of using a battery-powered hybrid Streetcar that could lower the total cost of the project.
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Today’s guest blog post is from the City of Cincinnati:
The Cincinnati Streetcar project is anticipated to stimulate the local economy by attracting more businesses, new jobs and advanced revenue into the urban core and Greater Cincinnati economy. For every $1 spent, the City is projected to see $3 in return to the local economy.
In addition, 1,800 jobs are predicted to result from the construction of the Cincinnati Streetcar alone, and an estimated 9,000 jobs could be created over the next 20 years.
Studies indicate that development along the streetcar’s route will result in approximately $1.4 billion in economic impact. Residents could see impact in more than 1,100 new housing units, and businesses are estimated to benefit from 92 acres of land likely to be converted into 7.4 million square feet of new office and retail space.
All city neighborhoods will benefit from new jobs and residents paying general earnings.
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