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Cincinnati - May 2011

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Cincinnati — Truncated Streetcar Route Announced

Rail Transit Online, May 2011

A shortened, lower-cost streetcar route was unveiled by Cincinnati city officials on May 3, one that is affordable without the nearly $51.8 million in state funding recently withdrawn by the Ohio Transportation Review Advisory Council.

The new proposal lops off both ends of the line, leaving a $95-million, four-mile (6.4 km) segment running from Fountain Square in central downtown to Findlay Market in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Losing service will be the riverfront and the University of Cincinnati area, although officials hope the $9-million section from Fountain Square to the riverfront could be restored if additional funding can be found. Another cut is the reduction in rolling stock from seven cars to five.

City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. told a city hall news conference the changes were made reluctantly but added, "The overall vision has not changed." A groundbreaking has been scheduled for sometime this fall despite the efforts of opponents to stop it either through legal action or by referendum.

Mayor Mark Mallory, who has led the pro-streetcar forces, predicted the deleted downtown and uptown sections will ultimately be built. The business community and local activists have generally supported the streetcar and have been very critical of Gov. John Kasich for cutting off funding.

"I think people in uptown will hold the governor accountable for cutting the legs off the streetcar," Holly Dorna, president of the Mount Auburn Chamber of Commerce, told the Enquirer. "Mayor Mallory and Mr. Dohoney are building what they have the money to build. If this is all we can afford to build for now, we're very much in favor of doing that."

Dohoney said it would have been easy to quit in the face of mounting obstacles. "But the reason we are determined to see it through ... is a need to expand the city's tax base. ... A streetcar is one such tool."

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority will manage and operate the streetcar; a contract with the city is currently being negotiated.


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