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Cincinnati - June 2010

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Cincinnati — Council Authorizes Streetcar Bonds

Rail Transit Online, June 2010

A proposed $128-million streetcar project took a major step forward on May 12 when the city council voted to authorize the sale of $64 million in bonds and allocated $2.6 million in local funds.

The action gives the city a better chance of receiving a $25-million federal grant when the next round of streetcar awards are announced next month; an application for more FTA money will be filed in July. The council's decision also had a more immediate effect, triggering two grants totaling $19 million from the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments.

Mayor Mark Mallory, the scheme's biggest cheerleader, won support from several wavering council members by promising the bonds would not be issued until all of the money needed for the project's first phase is in hand. "Yes, there are some risks here," said Councilman Cecil Thomas. "But we have to be bold enough to take those risks if we're going to grow this city and region."

The approximately six-mile (9.65 km) line will be constructed under a design-buildoperate-maintain contract and will connect the downtown riverfront with the Uptown area near the University of Cincinnati. A second phase will be developed later, consisting of two loops in the Uptown area.

SORTA May Join Streetcar Effort

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) wants to become part of a city effort to build a modern streetcar system connecting the downtown riverfront with the Uptown area near the University of Cincinnati. The agency's board of trustees voted on May 18 to authorize negotiations with the city for SORTA to help develop an operating plan for the streetcar and ultimately to run the approximately six-mile (9.65 km) line.

"The streetcar is a city economic development tool of regional importance, but it's also a transportation mode that must be integrated with current transit service and operated efficiently and effectively," said SORTA Chair Melody Sawyer Richardson.

As the designated recipient of federal transit funding for the Greater Cincinnati area, SORTA can also assist the city in obtaining FTA grants; about two-thirds of the estimated $128-million capital cost has already been promised by local and state governments. The SORTA board and the city council will vote again after an agreement has been reached to finalize the decision on an operator.


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