Streetcar track work is now moving into Cincinnati's Central Business District and that likely will continue through early 2015 as part of the $133 million project.
"Seeing the track on Walnut Street is an exciting milestone in the construction process," said project executive John Deatrick in a statement. "It's a sign the streetcar is getting closer to achieving our goal to connect two major downtown neighborhoods: Over-the-Rhine and the Central Business District."
Right now crews are working on Walnut Street between Central Parkway and Ninth Street and they will be pouring concrete there starting Friday.
The work means one route will be closed this weekend. Both sides of Court Street between Vine and Walnut will be closed starting Friday at 8 p.m. and remain shut down until Monday at 5 a.m. One lane of Walnut will remain open.
In the coming weeks, the contractor plans to work in two-block stretches of Walnut Street moving south toward Third Street.
Starting September 2nd crews will begin excavation work on the Walnut and Main Street bridges over Fort Washington Way south of Third Street, and on Second Street between Walnut and Main. That work will continue until the Reds opening day in 2015.
Deatrick was asked about Mayor John Cranley's and others frustration with how the streetcar is affecting downtown traffic.
"We're doing our best to minimize that," Deatrick said. "We're trying to learn everyday how to do this better."
Deatrick says information is the key. The city is working with a number of groups to get the word out including Downtown Cincinnati Incorporated.
"I often say to people 'pardon our dust, it sure beats rust,'" said DCI President David Ginsburg. "Take a look at other cities, if you're not building, if you're not moving forward, you're going backward."
Streetcar work and testing will continue until passenger operation begins in September 2016.
The city has created an online roadmap to assist drivers with all the downtown construction related to the streetcar and other projects.
Cincinnati Council Member Kevin Flynn said efforts continue to secure operating money for the system.
Those efforts took a hit earlier this week when a city application for federal money scored poorly in a review process. Flynn said work continues to secure funds from Washington and the private sector. Private money for streetcar operation was a major reason why Flynn decided to support the project in December when Council took a vote on whether to allow work to continue.
Mayor Cranley and some council members campaigned last year on a platform to stop the project, but six council members voted to let it move forward.