City Council brainstorms ways to reduce blockages, keep streetcar schedule on track

CINCINNATI -- There's trouble on the tracks for the Cincinnati Bell Connector, so city leaders and transportation officials met Monday to try to identify solutions for the streetcar's most pressing issues. 

"The transportation committee is making sure that they can reduce blockages, i.e. anyone parking on these tracks especially near popular bars and restaurants," said City Council Member Amy Murray. "We said let's get a team together and really look at all of these issues, break into groups and figure out how we can solve them."

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) said data indicates tracks are blocked an average of 2.4 times every day, slowing streetcar progress along the 3.6-mile loop. SORTA officials said the biggest offenders include delivery drivers on Walnut Street, those outside Rhinegeist Brewery on Elm Street and ride-sharing services like Uber drivers.

"The city manager has given the direction to parking enforcement of the city to increase the number of citations written for people found to be blocking the path of the streetcar," said Assistant City Manager John Jeuch.

Council Member Chris Seelbach suggested that the amount of the $50 citation for blocking streetcar tracks should be raised to further discourage people from disrespecting the law. Murray also suggested additional signage be placed around the tracks to notify motorists of where they may or may not park.

The city recognizes that more people around the streetcar equals increased ridership. Now they're just trying to figure out how to keep their routes on track while keeping other vehicles off. 

"I've gone out with our traffic enforcement on Friday and Saturday nights. I mean it's really unbelievable just the amount of activity there which is great. I mean that's awesome. We want people there, but it is creating big bottlenecks," Jeuch said.

Those aren't the only issues city council's transportation committee faces in getting the streetcar truly on track. The committee will meet again Wednesday to pick up these issues once more and discuss problems with poured concrete around the tracks.

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