Why is it always Portland, Portland, Portland?
When it comes to the Cincinnati Streetcar it seems everyone always screams: "Portland, Portland, Portland." Why? Why is Portland so special? Well, in 2001 Portland completed it's 7.8 mile modern streetcar line, Cincinnati is proposing a 7.9 mile modern streetcar line using a similar right-of-way system and the same modern vehicles. Like in Portland, Cincinnati hopes to see new economic development and redevelopment of established areas along the streetcar's line. Portland saw this to great success, even having a formerly abandoned downtown rail yard spur into a an affordable neighborhood of retail and living space known as "The Pearl District." Their streetcar is so successful that a 3 mile extension is already underway and set to open soon, with another 6 mile extension proposed on top of that.
The Skylines of Cincinnati, Ohio and Portland, Oregon
What is the "Modern Streetcar" and how does it differ from the "trolley's" of days past?
Modern Streetcars, like the ones seen in Tacoma, Seattle and Portland seat approximately 170 to 200 passengers. The design Cincinnati would use for it's streetcars follows suit of these systems. Unlike the "trolley's" of our past, these modern streetcars are quiet, low to the ground and run seamlessly with automobile traffic in the same right-of-way.
Left: Cincinnati Streetcar of the past. Right: A "Modern Streetcar."
Who makes the "Modern Streetcar?"
The modern streetcars seen in Portland, Seattle and Tacoma are of a design by Czech company Skoda. These streetcar were made in Czechoslovakia and shipped to these American city's. In July 2009 Portland added to their fleet the first American made Modern Streetcar. Made by Oregon Iron Works, the Portland fleet's latest streetcar proves that not only do streetcars spur jobs and development along their route, but they are helping to put Americans to work in other capacities, further benefiting our domestic economy.
The crew at Oregon Iron Works unveils the first American Made modern Streetcar which is going into service in Portland in late 2009.
All of what you say is nice, but does it work?
Have a look for yourself:
Taken in 2002, this photograph shows the Portland Streetcar Stop at the Bridgeport Brewpub. The only business along the line at this point is the pub.
Five years later, in the same location as the above photograph the Brewpub has been extensively renovated and a new high rise residential condo is being build right along the line.
Again the same location, this time in 2008, new condo tower is complete, development has fostered.
Photos Credited to John Schneider of Pro-Tranist
New residential condo towers under construction along the streetcar route in Portland, OR.
Photo credit: The Phony Coney
In Charlotte, NC new restaurants, shopping centers and condos are already under construction along the streetcar route...and the streetcar's construction isn't even finished yet!
Photo Credit: Randy Simes of Urban Cincy
These artistic renderings show what a previously vacant building on Race St. in Cincinnati, Ohio will look like once Rookwood Pottery completes their move from Corryville to Over-The-Rhine. Located right on the proposed streetcar line, public relations manager Suzanne Blackburn says: "We think what's going on in Over-the-Rhine is really authentic – authentic architecture, authentic history, authentic tile. It just kind of fits in together, so we want to be a part of that. The hope is that we can, with Findlay Market, just have people come over to Rookwood and have kind of a walking neighborhood." Not even under construction yet and Cincinnati businesses are already lining up to be on the streetcar line!
Photo Credit: Building Cincinnati
We've seen it work elsewhere. We've seen how Cincinnati businesses are already lining up to be a part of it. The Cincinnati Streetcar is an innovative plan to revitalize and develop our downtown core while linking our two largest employment centers, uptown and downtown. In a time of economic uncertainty Cincinnati has the chance to step forward and emerge from the economic recession as an attractive location for business and development. The Cincinnati Streetcar is not just a step in the right direction for transit options, but a step in the right direction for Cincinnati.