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Cincinnati - August 2011

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Cincinnati — Anti-Streetcar Ballot Qualifies

Rail Transit Online, August 2011

Local voters will have another chance on Nov. 8 to decide whether they want the city to build a streetcar starter line from downtown to the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

A last-minute push by anti-streetcar organizations led by the NAACP managed to gather a sufficient number of signatures to place the question on the ballot. In addition to banning streetcar construction until at least 2020, the measure would block "...any system of passenger vehicles operated on rails constructed primarily in existing public rights-of-way," including LRT. An almost identical ballot question was defeated in 2009, and the campaign by both sides is expected to be largely similar to that of two years ago.

"The language is the same, except this one extends out to 10 years," Rob Richardson, cochairman of the pro-streetcar group Cincinnatian for Progress, told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "it was misleading then and is misleading again this time." The local NAACP leader said Cincinnati shouldn't be building rail transit while budget deficits are forcing cutbacks in social services.

Meanwhile, in a move some saw as a demonstration to voters that the streetcar is a done deal, Mayor Mark Mallory, City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. and other city officials posted temporary signs at 16 potential station sites. The signs, wrapped around streetlight poles and similar to those used at bus stops, display the streetcar logo and a map showing the adopted route.

During a news conference at Eighth and Main streets, where the first sign was unveiled, Dohoney said, "The road to being competitive is not paved with asphalt. It is paved with rail lines." Mallory was dismissive of the ballot measure, saying it's the same people asking the same question as they did two years ago."We're not going to change direction based on their hopes and dreams," he said.


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