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Cincinnati - April 2011

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Cincinnati — Shorter Route May Save Streetcar

Rail Transit Online, April 2011

The Ohio Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) on Apr. 12 voted 6-1 to withdraw $52 million already approved for the proposed $128-million Cincinnati streetcar scheme. Republican Gov. John Kasich and his state Department of Transportation Director, Jerry Wray, said eliminating the funding will help close Ohio's projected budget deficit. Despite evidence to the contrary, Wray contends the streetcar would not be a job creator.

Politics is not supposed to enter into TRAC's deliberations but streetcar supporters assert that Wray and Kasich have clearly violated that rule;
Kasich has been outspoken against the project since before taking office and vowed to stop it. TRAC had previously rated the streetcar 84 on a scale of 100 while a new highway bridge over the Ohio River has a rank of 26. Wray recommended that the TRAC board scrap the streetcar but approve the bridge. There is also a Republican-sponsored amendment in the $7-billion, two-year state transportation bill prohibiting the use of any state or federal money for streetcars.

Some local officials are now suggesting that the line be truncated to save it. Instead of building the full 4.9 mi. (7.9 km) from the downtown riverfront to the uptown area near the University of Cincinnati, the route would terminate in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. There would be sufficient money from other sources to build the starter segment, and the remainder would be completed when financing becomes available.

"We have to keep our eyes on the prize," city council member and Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls told CityBeat. 'We'll just have to look at ways to reconfigure the route and look at changes in the basic operating model that will still result in a successful project while reducing costs."


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