Officials consider safety plans as streetcar work continues

Workers installing the first Streetcar rails in 2013
Workers installing the first Streetcar rails in 2013

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Despite all mother nature is throwing their way, workers on the streetcar project are still at it.

Crews are working on utilities along the route.  Work is also ongoing on the system's maintenance and operation facility in Over-The-Rhine.  Tracks are still being laid, particularly along Race Street.

That work has caused some inconveniences along the way.

Installing tracks for the city's streetcar system is a work in progress that started last October.  Streets have been shut down, sidewalks are closed, and parking has been impacted because of it.

"My biggest concern was that I was not able to get out and do the things I have to do," said Mark Hayden, who lives along the route.

A streetcar supporter, Hayden says the work blocked him from moving his car for days.  But, it's a problem that's since been fixed.  However, his bigger concern is what he says is a lack of a fire and EMS plan for folks living along the construction route.

"The big thing was the fear.  The fear of, 'What if my building catches on fire?  What if my neighbor's building catches on fire,'" said Hayden.

Hayden has taken his concern to project leaders.  Those leaders say they have an answer about that plan.

"They started putting it together over a year ago.  It's a requirement from the Federal Transit Administration," said John Deatrick, streetcar project executive.

Deatrick says he takes every complaint seriously.  That's why the fire department has checked out the construction area.

"When the fire department came out to see the situation, which they were already familiar with, they said that it isn't any different from anything they don't normally do," said Deatrick.

Deatrick tells FOX19 that a more specific emergency plan to this type of construction is not needed.  He's confident that the right plan is in place.

FOX19 asked Deatrick if he believed the people along the streetcar route are safe if something were to happen.

"Absolutely," he replied.

Deatrick says he'll meet with the city's fire department this Tuesday to take a look at their safety and security plan, something they've done a few times in the past.

As work continues, there are some traffic changes along the route for the coming week.  Starting Monday, Feb. 17, 13th Street will be detoured at Race Street for more work.  It'll be closed for five days.

Then, on Thursday, Feb. 20, the intersection at Liberty and Race Street will close for track installation.  That's expected to last through the weekend, and will reopen on Monday, Feb. 24.

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