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Streetcar work closes Second Street

Bill Rinehart

Second Street is closed between Vine and Main as crews install a curved piece of streetcar track.  Project Executive John Deatrick says it will be closed for two weeks because of the complicated nature of the construction.

“Traffic is difficult, but this is technically very difficult work,” Deatrick says.  “Putting in expansion boxes that allow the rail to slip back and forth against each other but yet keep the streetcar on the tracks when you pass over a bridge expansion joint.”

Those joints allow for expansion and contraction during hot and cold weather. 

“That is just difficult work," Deatrick says. "Getting everything lined up and keeping it lined up, because you don’t want to put many holes through the bridge, to tie things down.”

Second Street runs over the Riverfront Transit Center, and Deatrick points out it technically is a bridge, and that changes the way they put down rail.  “We’re using a special rail called New York City subway rail," Deatrick says. "It has a shallower profile than the other rail; that way we can do a shallower trench in order to put the rail in.  We don’t have to dig as much of the bridge out.”

Deatrick says they also have to waterproof each one of the track trenches with special material to keep any stray current within the track slab.

“Because the streetcar runs on electric… and the track is the negative return on the propulsion system; you want to keep all that electricity located right in the track slab itself and in the reinforcing steel," Deatrick says.

“Don’t worry.  You won’t get any shock from the rail,” he adds.

Deatrick says police officers are on the scene to direct traffic during rush hours, and detours are posted, including:

·         Vine, north to Fifth Street, east to Main.

·         Elm, south to Freedom Way, east to Main.

·         Elm, south to Mehring Way, east to Main.

Banks Project Executive Phil Beck says the work comes at a busy time so they've had to be mindful about scheduling. 

Beck says there are also several concrete pours scheduled for Phase 2 of the Banks, between the Freedom Center and Paul Brown Stadium, which will mean more, but brief, road and lane closures. 

“We have worked very closely and intensely, communicating with U.S. Bank Arena. They have a sold-out concert coming up on the 21st," Beck says. "With the Banks tenants- today is St. Patrick’s Day- it’s a big day for the dozen of tenants at the Banks.  We’ve got March Madness coming up."

Overall, Deatrick says the streetcar project is well within schedule and within budget.  He says the project is also meeting its Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) targets.