Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cincinnati selects preferred vendor for streetcar vehicles

The City of Cincinnati has selected CAF USA as the preferred vendor for the first phase of its streetcar system, Mayor Mark Mallory announced last night.

The announcement, given during the mayor's State of the City address, closes a request for proposals process launched last September for up to five modern streetcar vehicles that will serve the loop between The Banks and Findlay Market.

The City will now enter into contract negotiations with the company. It will also begin a federally-required audit of CAF USA for compliance with federal Buy America regulations, which require vehicles to be assembled in the United States and to include at least 60 percent domestic content. Cincinnati's vehicles will be assembled at CAF USA's facility in Elmira, N.Y.

Mallory said that, even though the first phase has only just begun, the City is starting work on the project's second phase.

"I have already asked for federal funds to study which route will be used to connect to our assets in the Uptown area—UC, the hospitals, the zoo, the EPA," he said.

And that's just the start, as future phases could connect to such places as Walnut Hills, the Cincinnati Museum Center, and Northern Kentucky, Mallory said, adding that rail transportation should include more than just the streetcar.

"We could do light rail along I-75 and I-71," he said. "And we could even add a passenger rail line along the Ohio River. And I have got to tell you, I do not believe that we should give up on the idea of high speed rail in this state. Remember, we have got to be willing to make investments for future generations."

The Cincinnati streetcar is viewed by many as Mallory's "pet" project, leading many of the project's opponents to question why the City would channel such a large portion of the City's resources into such a relatively small area.

The mayor made no apologies, calling the project an investment for future generations.

"Downtown is the economic engine for this entire region," Mallory said. "There is no West Chester without Downtown Cincinnati. There is no Mason without Downtown. There is no sub without the urban. It all works together."

Previous reading on BC:
Streetcar team to hold DBE outreach on Thursday (3/20/12)
Winburn: Scrap streetcar, look into 'trolley' buses (4/4/11)
Streetcar stops announced, advocacy continues (2/21/11)
Contract expiration, FTA require new streetcar bids (1/17/11)
$25M federal grant means streetcar can proceed (7/12/10)