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Cincinnati Streetcar / Cincinnati Bell Connector News

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I doubt it. There isn't the cost of having to install track, stations or other infrastructure required for the streetcar. Operating costs? Maybe. But I'd like to see a citation for that.

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I doubt it. There isn't the cost of having to install track, stations or other infrastructure required for the streetcar. Operating costs? Maybe. But I'd like to see a citation for that.

 

Yes, that's just the operating cost. It's about $5.00 per rider. Streetcar is close to $3.00.

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From what I could tell this weekend when I was biking around (and no, I never crashed because of the tracks, thank God for those warning signs...) the main focus is at the corner of Race and 12th, so this is the current trackwork progress. I might have missed a new station or two as well, when I got home I had forgotten if I saw any new ones. With the exception of the station in Washington Park they are all so unobtrusive right now that you almost don't notice them unless you are looking for it. I am sure that will change once the ticketing, benches, canopy etc. are installed.

 

So the yellow represents the constructed portions?

 

I'm waiting for a person who opposed the streetcar because it would be some sort of visual scar on the city to now argue that the system is so unobtrusive that they wonder if anyone will use the streetcar because they don't see it!


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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From what I could tell this weekend when I was biking around (and no, I never crashed because of the tracks, thank God for those warning signs...) the main focus is at the corner of Race and 12th, so this is the current trackwork progress. I might have missed a new station or two as well, when I got home I had forgotten if I saw any new ones. With the exception of the station in Washington Park they are all so unobtrusive right now that you almost don't notice them unless you are looking for it. I am sure that will change once the ticketing, benches, canopy etc. are installed.

 

So the yellow represents the constructed portions?

 

I'm waiting for a person who opposed the streetcar because it would be some sort of visual scar on the city to now argue that the system is so unobtrusive that they wonder if anyone will use the streetcar because they don't see it!

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big supporter, but from what I see it will be visually obtrusive.  The DC streetcar simplified the poles-- the poles tat hold the catenary are also streetlights and traffic signals.  The way I am seeing the Cincinnati streetcar come together so far we will have OCS poles, traffic signal poles, light poles (in some areas) and wood poles with cobras.  Seems like way too many poles.  DC also included new streetscaping- building to building, not curb to curb like Cincy.

 

Also, why not just start putting in mast arms traffic signals... We have mast arms over the streetcar, span wire over the streets, how cheesy.  I really wish Cincy could standardize on a classy mast arm signal (not some silly faux historic thing....).  Not burying utils in OTR is also a huge missed opp.  Completely dig up the streets and at the same time put in new, even more obtrusive taller wood poles. 

 

Value engineered to the max.  Just how it has to be here, I guess.

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Even better than shared poles is attaching wires, lights, traffic signals, etc., directly to buildings. Granted, many of our buildings are old, and there are many vacant lots, and issues with private property rights, and a host of other challenges. Nevertheless, I saw this done in Europe and it really reduced the street clutter.

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^ I'm pretty sure Duke had a say in not burying wires.

 

Sherman, streetcars have a greater capacity per driver (so lower labor costs), and the rolling stock lasts much longer than buses. Over time, they save money.

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From what I could tell this weekend when I was biking around (and no, I never crashed because of the tracks, thank God for those warning signs...) the main focus is at the corner of Race and 12th, so this is the current trackwork progress. I might have missed a new station or two as well, when I got home I had forgotten if I saw any new ones. With the exception of the station in Washington Park they are all so unobtrusive right now that you almost don't notice them unless you are looking for it. I am sure that will change once the ticketing, benches, canopy etc. are installed.

 

So the yellow represents the constructed portions?

 

I'm waiting for a person who opposed the streetcar because it would be some sort of visual scar on the city to now argue that the system is so unobtrusive that they wonder if anyone will use the streetcar because they don't see it!

 

Yes the yellow/orange is the track that's already been installed. I tried to match the light orange of the streetcars themselves but I should've converted to rgb so it shows up properly on screen.

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^No problem with kicking ideas around! IIRC the LACMTA Expo Line was inspired by some fantasy maps painted on LA walls (transit murals, I guess) ;) . But then again, the Expo Line was built upon the long abandoned Pacific Electric "Santa Monica Air Line." But anyway...

 

thebillshark: any ideas for a cross-town route (e.g., Cincinnati Museum Center to the Casino, or to the Casino and toward Sawyer Point)? how about lines to Price Hill or NKY? Personally I'd love to see a Banks/Newport/Covington loop. There is a lot of valuable land that could be developed as TOD across the river. It would tie the riverfront urban areas together in a really wonderful way both for tourists/visitors (both stadiums, the Newport Aquarium, and other riverfront attractions all on one loop) and residents (potential for TOD; linking TANK and SORTA transit centers together). Now if there could just be a new bridge built over the Licking ;)

 

ucgrady has the best idea for a NKY streetcar that was posted on the Beyond the Streetcar thread:  http://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=9.1155 ucgrady you should repost your diagram on this thread!  Agree on the huge potential for development in Covington and Newport.  There is lots of room for infill development to restore their urban fabric.  For example, look at the area around the World Peace Bell, here’s this structure that was supposed to be a major monument and it’s surrounded by a surface parking lot.  As for the 4th street bridge over the Licking, I always get annoyed when riding my bike from Newport to Covington that the path at the top of the Newport levee dumps you onto the super narrow bridge sidewalk there. There is no room to pass a pedestrian coming in the opposite direction even after getting off your bike and walking it.  It’s really awkward!

 

For a cross downtown route I would like to see eventually a line down Ezzard Charles to Union Terminal.  I would like to have upgraded intercity rail service arrive at Union Terminal eventually, so I think a streetcar connection would be good to deliver tourists directly into OTR and downtown.  Plus there is actually room for more development back in the West End/Laurel Homes area, most notably (ironically?) on the plot of land being used for the streetcar construction staging area.  I always thought this would somehow wrap around Music Hall from OTR, but I just had the idea today that it could come from Court Street downtown (potential for surface lot redevelopment along the way) to Linn Street (help out the mostly vacant ground floor retail portion of City West) and then made a left turn onto Ezzard Charles. 

 

I always considered Horseshoe Casino to be on the current route, but if the UrbanCincy casino arena idea came to fruition just north of the casino, it would be nice to have it come a little bit closer.  Once you get it over there, I don't know where you send it, I guess down Eggleston but the development potential would be limited due to the highway spaghetti in that area.  It would be difficult to get up to Mt. Adams.  I’ve also heard an idea for an arena directly south of the convention center, if that happened once again it would be nice to come a little closer to both of those things.  Maybe you run a leg down Race and Elm toward Paul Brown Stadium so that the downtown system looks like a block letter lower case “h”, although maybe that would be too close to the current route to be cost effective. 

 


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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Yes the yellow/orange is the track that's already been installed. I tried to match the light orange of the streetcars themselves but I should've converted to rgb so it shows up properly on screen.

 

Thanks.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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Don't get me wrong, I'm a big supporter, but from what I see it will be visually obtrusive.  The DC streetcar simplified the poles-- the poles tat hold the catenary are also streetlights and traffic signals.  The way I am seeing the Cincinnati streetcar come together so far we will have OCS poles, traffic signal poles, light poles (in some areas) and wood poles with cobras.  Seems like way too many poles.  DC also included new streetscaping- building to building, not curb to curb like Cincy.

 

Also, why not just start putting in mast arms traffic signals... We have mast arms over the streetcar, span wire over the streets, how cheesy.  I really wish Cincy could standardize on a classy mast arm signal (not some silly faux historic thing....).  Not burying utils in OTR is also a huge missed opp.  Completely dig up the streets and at the same time put in new, even more obtrusive taller wood poles. 

 

Value engineered to the max.  Just how it has to be here, I guess.

 

From what I understand, the OCS poles will also have street lights on them. Part of the problem is that right now you're seeing all of the poles -- old telephone poles, new telephone poles, old traffic signal poles, new traffic signal poles, new OCS poles.

 

Burying utilities would be great, but they did not "completely dig up the streets" except for in three small areas (Elm Street in front of Music Hall, 12th & Race, and Henry Street). Cincy Bell voluntarily buried their utilities; Duke opted to install new overhead electric poles. With the massive battle that we had to go through in order to get the streetcar built, can you imagine adding another $10 million to the cost of the project for utility burial? Or another $20 million for a full streetscape of the entire route? (Just guessing at numbers, but I bet they're in that range.) I predict that utility burial and new streetscapes will slowly happen as properties are redeveloped along the route. It will take time, but it'll be OK.

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Hasn't Cincinnati Bell been all underground for over a century to begin with?  That's what prompted the original suit against the street railway companies that forced the installation of dual overhead wiring.  Leaking current from the poorly bonded rails caused noise on the underground phone lines.  They even bury telephone lines way out in the country.  Maybe some newer fiber optic trunk lines were put in overhead in the last decade? 

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Only about 5 OCS poles will have streetlights on them.  I agree, it seems idiotic that there are certain locations where there are street light poles, OCS poles and utility poles all within a few feet of each other.  That's what happens when you are building a system with as little money as possible.

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^ But like Travis said, we don't know which poles are going to stay or be removed later.  Obviously the new stuff isn't hooked up yet, so they're not going to take down the old ones yet. 

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One option for the Uptown Transit District would be to build platforms like they are doing in Kansas City. The center two doors would have a 14inch platform and the outside two doors would have a 10 inch platform. Streetcar would have level boarding in the center and buses could use the ends of the platforms

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Liberty & Race streetcar stop (July 20, 2014):

14527126840_93e0eefc75_c.jpg

 

North end of the streetcar route, looking south to Downtown (July 21, 2014):

14527366807_628d58e6c4_c.jpg

 

Lots of action on Henry Street (July 21, 2014):

14733672033_6ac515e9bc_c.jpg

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I know that once the route is done they will smooth out the pavement on the perimeter of the track concrete, but are their any plans to re-pave the streets it traverses as well? Would be a great benefit to kill two bird with one stone and really make the streets more welcoming.

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I know that once the route is done they will smooth out the pavement on the perimeter of the track concrete, but are their any plans to re-pave the streets it traverses as well? Would be a great benefit to kill two bird with one stone and really make the streets more welcoming.

 

Yup.  All streets  along the route will be repaved from curb to curb.

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I know that once the route is done they will smooth out the pavement on the perimeter of the track concrete, but are their any plans to re-pave the streets it traverses as well? Would be a great benefit to kill two bird with one stone and really make the streets more welcoming.

 

The streets carrying the streetcar will be repaved, curb-to-curb, once track construction is complete.

 

Edit:

Yup.  All streets  along the route will be repaved from curb to curb.

 

Ya beat me to it. :clap:

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How is it going to only be curb-curb? The sidewalks along most of the route have been so torn up and ruined during the process that they'll also need to be repaved in their entirety. I know out front of my building on Race the corner curb doesn't even exist anymore and they've just poured a smooth pile of blacktop to recreate the general shape of the curb that used to be there. And the sidewalks have huge holes cut out of them that are now just a mess of patchwork. Maybe more extensive repairs of sidewalks will coincide with streetscaping projects out front of redevelopment in the future as they did with Vine Street?

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How is it going to only be curb-curb? The sidewalks along most of the route have been so torn up and ruined during the process that they'll also need to be repaved in their entirety. I know out front of my building on Race the corner curb doesn't even exist anymore and they've just poured a smooth pile of blacktop to recreate the general shape of the curb that used to be there. And the sidewalks have huge holes cut out of them that are now just a mess of patchwork. Maybe more extensive repairs of sidewalks will coincide with streetscaping projects out front of redevelopment in the future as they did with Vine Street?

 

The sidewalks will be repaired in the places where they have been torn up. At the very least, they are required to bring them back up to ADA accessibility standards. However, they are not going to rebuild every single sidewalk along the entire route. That would be building-to-building, not curb-to-curb.

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Thanks. Makes sense. That's kind of what I figured, a situational basis. It just seems like those situations are almost everywhere. But I'd imagine they'll just redo them to get them in useable shape again with anything further, like full streetscaping, happening later on when needed and unrelated specifically to the streetcar.

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A lot of people need to know, very little streetscaping is going to occur in OTR in the near future.  The OTR West TIF district is essentially maxed out. That's how almost all projects have been funded. 3CDC isn't even going after TIF funding right now.

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Yeah, as far as I am concerned as an owner, I think this sort of thing should be done via a special assessment, and in many cases it would pass. It's been done in other areas, like for example the 13th street lighting. At least I was asked to approve that assessment, about a year ago.

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13th street streetscape was done with Casino TIF dollars.  There are a couple million left there, could go to some OTR or Pendleton streets capes.  Interestingly, the assessment only pays for the cost of electricity and maintenance going forward, not the actual construction.  Also, Streetscapes are A LOT cheaper if utilities aren't buried.  A proposal for burying the utilities between Vine & Race on 13th was $700K for utility work, and $300K for building the entire streetscape (lights, sidewalks, tree wells, etc. The City would pay the $700K and the homeowners along the stretch would each have to pay between $3K and 10K (depending on property) for underground utility connections.

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Yeah, as far as I am concerned as an owner, I think this sort of thing should be done via a special assessment, and in many cases it would pass. It's been done in other areas, like for example the 13th street lighting. At least I was asked to approve that assessment, about a year ago.

 

I didn't realize a special assessment could be placed on a small area like an individual street. I guess it makes sense because gaslight neighborhoods work the same way. Who must propose the special assessment? Does the city start the process or does some organization like 3CDC need to propose it?

 

I would love to see a SID placed on the entirety of OTR & Pendleton that would help fund streetcar operations*, streetscaping and utility burrial, and maybe pay for a few of DCI's Downtown Ambassadors to hang out in OTR.

 

(*As I've stated before, I disagree with the premise that Downtown & OTR alone should pay for streetcar operations, but I'm willing to accept this fact and move on so that we can begin seriously talking about Phase 2.)

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Not sure how it gets proposed.  I got something in the mail about the special assessment (probably the same one Jim Uber did) and agreed to it. 

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Assessments are done directly by the City.  Everyone with a street tree or a decorative light has an assessment.  It's added to your property tax bill.  It is not the same as a Special improvement district (SID).

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When I got the special assessment notice I emailed the responsible person at City Hall:

 

Angie Strunc, Architect

City of Cincinnati

Department of Transportation and Engineering

Office of Architecture and Urban Design

City Hall

801 Plum Street, Room 450

Cincinnati, Oh  45202-5704

513.352.3310

 

She referred to this as a "lighting assessment." The letter referred to a very specific area:  "Walnut street between 13th and 14th, on Mercer and 14th streets between vine and walnut." (Funny that my property was not actually in this area, which was the reason for contacting her - so read your special assessment announcements!)

 

I infer that this is not the same as a SID, in that I assume it could overlap with a SID. In other words there must be something special about the ability of the city to purse special assessments for "lighting." Not sure what the actual constraints on this process are, in terms of what it can fund.

 

Since it's 2014 now, maybe the statute that governs the lighting assessments should be amended to allow for "internet assessments" or "security camera assessments" or other such possibly important things that never existed before.

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^Thanks for posting, I just had a neighbor ask about our streetlight situation, so that may come in handy.

 

Anyway, I was thinking about my Uptown 5 route plan (reference it here uptown with transit center and here streetcar_all), and was thinking about combining the two shortest routes (Auburn Ave and Short Vine to Zoo,) meaning the streetcar wouldn’t turn around at the transit center but continue on as if it was just another stop for those routes.  But the transit center diagram I drew wouldn’t accommodate that, and that coupled with the comments I received meant I couldn’t resist redrawing my transit center diagram with surrounding development.  The new diagram narrows everything down to a single stop. 

 

14742914781_a39c705e02_c.jpg

 

As for the block labeled “University Tower,” I really wonder what a skyscraper (something 20-30 stories or more) would look like in that location.  I wonder how it would alter the look of Cincinnati skyline from the cut-in-the-hill vista coming into town on I-75, and from other locations.  Maybe it would tower over the buildings in the basin from the edge of the hillside there.  I’m guessing such a proposal has never been made to the city. 

 

There are probably a million ways you could do this location if the land was made available, so my future uptown streetcar posts will probably focus more on the routes themselves. 

 


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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^  Your creative streetcar thinking here is appreciated and should remain the focus of the thread--however, your idea of a "University Tower" was actually proposed years ago in the form of a colossal 100+ story structure!  Such an idea was the brainchild of some sort of reverend who hoped investors would buy into his grand plans.  (If I'm not mistaken, the monumental tower would have become a super high-rise residence for senior-citizens!)  Needless to say, both the reverend and his money-making schemes disappeared from the local news shortly afterwards.

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Not to veer off topic, but the idea of a 100-story tower at the top of the hills is saner than 100 stories of senior citizen housing.  Can you imagine a fire alarm going off and everyone having to take to the stairs? 

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thebillshark, I think your design is coming together nicely! I wonder if it would be better to make those 90-degree turns a bit smoother, reshaping the buildings to be less rectangular (thereby shortening travel times). Overall, I think this looks nice! The garage is in a nice location, where it can be accessed from both Corry and WHT. (I wish a garage could be skipped, but I know reality dictates otherwise.)

 

What a fantastic node of true-blue transit-oriented development this would be. Jefferson route = Missed opportunity.

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^^That Sander Hall story is a fascinating story that I just learned about from your post, and about the same size and location I am talking about.  As a child of the early 80's I don't remember this story from 1991 and haven't heard all the details since, even though I am a UC Alum.  I found a pretty good video here:  http://magazine.uc.edu/favorites/web-only/sander.html  Tallest building to be imploded in the United States at the time, and the youngest of that size to be imploded.  Built 1971 and abandoned by 1982! ( https://sites.google.com/site/ucwalks/points-of-interest/schneider-and-sanders-halls ).  The roof was the highest point in Hamilton County.  The main reason given is that it wasn't up to fire code.  Is there a cautionary tale there about overbuilding for demand, a statement on the time and place, or something about a gap between design and intended use?  Maybe, but not being too familiar with this story I can't really tell. 

 

On another note, Vox.com, German Lopez's (from City Beat) new outfit, published a blistering commentary on mixed traffic streetcars yesterday, actually calling them "evil":  http://www.vox.com/2014/7/25/5937215/dc-streetcar-disaster-mixed-traffic-streetcars-are-evil (Written by Matthew Yglesias, not German, also be sure to launch the "cards" after the article for more info.)  While I think you can argue with his conclusions, obviously a dedicated right of way is preferable.  Any possibility of retrofitting our downtown/OTR system with dedicated right of way after it's up and running, perhaps that it could share with buses?  Granted I'm usually riding my bike downtown on nights and weekends and not rush hour, but traffic seems light on the North/South streets.  Are there technical reasons against it, a lack of political will, or both? 


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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The context of every new streetcar project (and extension) is different.  This article barely took note of this.  In Cincinnati the streetcars will, with the exception of a few blocks on lightly-traveled 12th St., travel on one-way streets enabling traffic to pass stopped streetcars. 

 

Friday night was the busiest I have ever seen DT Cincinnati in my life.  There were simultaneous events at both stadiums, Fountain Square, and Washington Park.  Most traffic congestion was on Vine St.  The no-left from Vine St. south at Central Parkway is having the effect of diverting a lot of traffic to Race that would otherwise be shifting over to Walnut (notice the often 10-car cue that forms on Central Parkway making lefts onto Race). Even during this extreme test of the city's street grid, I don't think the streetcars would be slowed down by too much.   

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Agree jmecklenborg.  That particular Vox article was very light on data and specifics to support the conclusions, especially about the assertion of how streetcars slow down buses.  (I did find the "cards" informative though: http://www.vox.com/cards/us-streetcar-trend-public-transportation/what-is-a-streetcar )  I think traffic flows pretty well already along our route, so a dedicated right of way might not make that much of a difference.  I did think the article was interesting considering the source, it's not a right wing website and the article included statements like, "To improve transit, smash the car lobby."  Kind of like getting hit from the left I guess.  But, I really think our current project will be a tremendous success as-is.


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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On another note, Vox.com, German Lopez's (from City Beat) new outfit, published a blistering commentary on mixed traffic streetcars yesterday, actually calling them "evil":  http://www.vox.com/2014/7/25/5937215/dc-streetcar-disaster-mixed-traffic-streetcars-are-evil (Written by Matthew Yglesias, not German, also be sure to launch the "cards" after the article for more info.) 

 

The vox.com thing above has General Electric's logo all over it.  I'm not sure when or why GE got into streetcar-hating, in fact it just doesn't make sense.  This video posted below here "Going Places" is from General Electric circa 1952 and praises the virtues of electric public transit.  It is dead accurate and well worth watching, although the opening few minutes is kind of lame.  It gets better toward the middle and end...about 3 minutes in it gets right to the point.  Sit back, watch and enjoy.  :clap:  Lots of footage of PCC streetcars.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZB3-RB6Phlg

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