Phase one gets an additional $22.4M in funding, utility work progresses

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Streetcar Utility Relocation WorkIt’s been quite a while since we’ve last updated you on the project, but there has been a bunch of news lately and we wanted to catch you up-to-speed with what’s happening.

First off, City Council’s Budget & Finance Committee approved $17.4 million in additional funding for the project on Monday by a 5-4 vote (Sittenfeld, Smitherman, Thomas and Winburn opposed), and also approved a motion that requests Mayor Mallory’s administration to provide regular updates on phase one work, and develop a funding plan and time frame for phase two work.

While these votes don’t become final until the full City Council votes on them, which will take place tomorrow at 2pm, we expect both items to pass with the same margins as they did in committee since it is made up of the full council.

The approval of the additional $17.4 million will then trigger the allocation of an additional $5 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation, courtesy of its TIGER grant program. This money would not be available if council does not approve the full $17.4 million tomorrow.

“The DOT continues to support your bold vision for economic development and enhanced transportation choices for the city of Cincinnati, and we believe that this project is a significant component of that vision,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood explained in his grant letter to the City of Cincinnati.

Construction work also is progressing.

City Manager Milton Dohoney says that Greater Cincinnati Water Works has completed all of its work in Over-the-Rhine and that Cincinnati Bell has begun moving manholes along the route. Dohoney also says that Duke Energy has finally begun electric work in the Central Business District and that Level 3 has also begun to move its lines.

Work has yet to begin on relocated utilities from Time Warner Cable and the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD), but Dohoney states that agreements are being finalized with Time Warner, and the MSD is putting its work out to bid.

With regards to the vehicles themselves, city officials traveled to Spain earlier this month to “review technical specifications, engineering and safety measures for the vehicles.”

And finally, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) has entered into a contract with Transportation Resource Associates (TRA), out of Philadelphia, to “revise and refine” the existing operations and maintenance plan for the project.

A lot of work is still to come, and this is shaping up to be a year with lots of exciting benchmarks. Make sure you connect with us on Twitter at @CincyStreetcar and like us on our Facebook page to ensure you’re getting the latest information.