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Work begins on maintenance facility for city streetcar

Crews officially began demolition work Monday on two vacant buildings at the corner of Race and Henry in Over-the-Rhine.  The site is being cleared to construct the new maintenance facility for the streetcar system.  

It's where the vehicles will be cleaned and maintained and operations staff will be housed.  

Project Manager John Deatrick said this is a visible sign of construction since most streetcar work has been underground moving or repairing utilities.  He said that task will also continue.

“Until the rail installation actually starts later this fall,” Deatrick said.  “We’re all looking forward to that, the first rails should show up sometime the first part of October.”

The more than 12,000 square foot building is scheduled to be completed in March 2015.  

Mayor Mark Mallory spoke during a ceremony to begin demolition work.

“Let me tell you what’s happening today is we’re putting an end to the question of whether or not the streetcar is going to happen,” Mallory said.  “The streetcar is going to happen, we’re in the process of building it.  We’ve bought the cars, we’re about to tear down this building and we will begin construction of the maintenance facility.”

Deatrick said the city will be talking with nearby businesses during construction.

“We will be doing an outreach session sometime in the next month with the businesses that are on the route as well as people who may want to relocate to the route,” Deatrick said.  “Because we see that as one of the principle pieces of economic development that’s going to take place.”

The first phase of the streetcar will run a loop from The Banks to Over-the-Rhine.  It has a price tag of nearly $148-million.  It's scheduled to begin passenger operation in September 2016.  

Project opponents have said the city can't afford the system and worry no one will ride it once it’s completed.