WSP has been involved in the streetcar since the concept was introduced in 2002 as part of the Central Area Loop Study, which the firm conducted for the OKI Regional Council of Governments, the MetroMoves Regional Rail Plan and SORTA. The firm also conducted a feasibility study in 2007.
Chris Clemons, senior civil engineer for the streetcar design, said WSP had to overcome several challenges throughout the process, but ultimately helped the city:
- reach a consensus on the best streetcar route,
- design the streetcar line to navigate a dense urban fabric that includes historic districts and properties,
- coordinate the traffic and signals along the line,
- reconfigure the project when federal funds altered its requirements,
- coordinate with utility companies for the relocation of extensive infrastructure below the surface, and
- value engineer the design to lower its cost when construction bids exceeded projections.
An $8.9 million, two-story, 12,460 square-foot maintenance and operations facility was also constructed in the Over-the-Rhine district and underwent a rigorous review process by the city, neighborhood and State Historic Preservation Office. The new storage yard has a capacity for 12 vehicles.
“The design of the maintenance and storage facility is modern, but its height, massing, materials and other features are compatible with the scale of the surrounding area, the largest area of Italianate architecture in the U.S.,” said Jennifer LeMasters Wirtz, project architect.
While the first phase of the streetcar project is now complete, expansion of the line is already in the works.
“Phase 2 of the project is anticipated to extend the line north of downtown to serve Cincinnati’s uptown, the University of Cincinnati and medical center district,” Reynolds said. “The city of Newport, Kentucky, located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati, is also pursuing a feasibility study for an extension to its core area.”
“The Cincinnati Streetcar Project was both challenging and exciting from concept through construction. After years of hard work it is very gratifying to see it become a reality here in Cincinnati,” Clemons said.
“For nearly 20 years my career revolved around the quest for rail in Cincinnati,” Craig added. “There were so many people who pulled together to get this done. To finally have it operational, and so wildly successful in its initial days, confirms the planning efforts of WSP and project partners. This project is a game changer for this community.”