Metro-Cincinnati.org began in 2009 as an academic design project to develop an architectural master plan for a regional rapid transit system for the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky metropolitan area. Although periodic efforts have been made to introduce rail transit to the region, including the partial construction of a subway line in the 1920′s and the current efforts to re-introduce streetcar service to the downtown core, Greater Cincinnati remains one of the largest US urban areas without any form of rail-based public transit. This proposal is loosely based upon the 2002 Metro Moves light rail initiative developed by the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority and the 2030 Regional Transportation Plan unanimously adopted in 2008 by the OKI Regional Council of Governments.
The primary focus of the project concerns the physical design of a hypothetical transit system, with a particular emphasis on the following three aspects:
Routes, Transit Modes, and Station Locations
The 2002 Metro Moves plan envisioned a three-tier system comprised of streetcars, light rail, and commuter rail. Several of the proposed light rail corridors incorporate abandoned railroad rights-of-way and run on surface streets in the central business district. While this provided a cost-effective way to introduce rail transit to Cincinnati, it had a number of shortcomings that limited the system’s future capacity and public appeal. Using the OKI plan as a starting point, this project proposes a modified regional plan that better serves the long-term transit needs of the public.
This project identifies typical transit station typologies (subway, elevated, surface, etc.) and establishes architectural design parameters to create a framework by which the design of these facilities can be further developed in the future.
Downtown Transit Hub
Finally, this project proposes a schematic design for the primary downtown transit hub, located at the site of the existing below-grade Fountain Square parking garage, which will provide the primary transfer point between most of the proposed transit lines.
Issues regarding capital and operational funding, public transit policy, ridership projections, civil and structural engineering, and political feasibility were not included within the scope of the design project itself. However, these issues are touched upon in the background research and in the author’s commentary.
Since the conclusion of the academic aspect of the project in the spring of 2010, the focus of this site and its associated social media outlets have evolved. Aspects of the transit master plan have been periodically improved and clarified, while the blog portion of the site has become a platform for education, commentary, and advocacy regarding the future of public transit in Cincinnati and beyond.
Your comments, questions, and feedback are always appreciated.
Note that this project and this website are in no way affiliated with any transit agency or provider, nor with any other governmental, commercial, or educational entity. The opinions expressed here are strictly those of the author.
All original text and images on this site are under copyright protection, and may not be reproduced without the author’s express written consent. Text and images from outside sources remain the intellectual property of their respective authors.
About the Author
David Cole is a Master of Architecture student at the University of Cincinnati‘s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP), and has been practicing professionally at various architecture firms in Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia since 1995 on a wide variety of project types. Before entering his graduate degree program in 2010, David was a Project Architect at Dattner Architects in New York City, a firm with a strong portfolio of transit, infrastructure, and civic projects throughout the New York City metropolitan area. During his time at Dattner, David oversaw daily design and production on a number of transit-related projects for PATH, the rapid transit division of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
David began his formal studies in architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1995, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from DePaul University’s School for New Learning, a program geared towards non-traditional adult students with a heavy emphasis on self-directed learning centered around an individualized focus area. David’s focus area was Architecture. One of the requirements for graduation was an Advanced Project that demonstrates competence in this focus area, and David developed Metro-Cincinnati.org to serve as a venue in which to present this Advanced Project to his academic committee and to the broader public.
David has strong personal roots in the Greater Cincinnati area, having been born in Mariemont and spending most of his childhood living across the river in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. In addition to architecture, David has a strong interest in rail transit, particularly electric passenger trains such as subways, light rail, and high-speed rail systems. He has been an outspoken advocate for improved urban mass transit and high-speed intercity rail in the United States, and has explored the transit systems of many American cities. As a former volunteer at the Illinois Railway Museum outside of Chicago, David has helped restore and operate vintage streetcars, interurbans, Chicago ‘L’ trains, and a New York City subway train.
Special thanks to:
My academic advisor Mechthild Hart at DePaul University and my professional advisor Jonathan Liffgens for their encouragement and feedback during the course of this project.
Jake Mecklenborg for his extensive knowledge of Cincinnati’s transit history, tireless advocacy for rail transit in Cincinnati, and for granting permission to use his photos here.
Ronny Salerno and David Pirmann for granting permission to use their photographs.
Pete Vesic at the Illinois Railway Museum. Rest in peace.
Brad Thomas, Casey Coston, Randy Simes, Nick Sweeney, John Schneider, and all others who helped defeat Issue 9 and who continue to advocate for passenger rail transit in Cincinnati.
The city of Cincinnati for welcoming me back home with open arms whenever I’ve shown up on the city’s doorstep.