Cincinnati ― An Election Issue Again
Despite the extensive plannng and political process to fund Cincinnati's streetcar project and bring it to the brink of construction, the continued existence of the project may be a factor in the 2013 mayoral race in the city, according to citybeat.com.
Former city council member John Cranley is against the project while his oppontent Roxanne Qualls, who is both a councillor and deputy mayor, is a supporter. Voters approved the project in referendums in 2009 and 2011, but Cranley is raising questions anew. Cranley would like to stop any unfinished part of the streetcar line should he be elected, and divert any funding to other programs. He also would not support any further extensions of the line.
Qualis cites the economic development that will occur along the streetcar route as a major reason for supporting the project. In 2007, consulting firm HDR studies the potential economic impact, finding major benefits to connecting Over the Rhine and the Central Business District, including travel cost savings, increased mobility for low-income individuals and economic development that spurs rising property values. The HDR study was entirely supported and echoed by a follow-up assessment from the University of Cincinnati.
Cranley considers the study too old to be relevant, as recent development in the Over the Rhine neighborhood means less is left for the streetcar to inspire. He favors rubber tired-approaches for transit improvements, and feels money spent on the streetcar line should go to other priorities.
Meanwhile considerable work on the streetcar project is slated for 2013. CAF USA, the builder of the selected streetcar vehicle, will be given the order to proceed with the cars this year. The city also hopes to come to a final agreement on disputed utility relocations with Duke Energy this year.
The mayoral election will be in November.