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Columbus - April 2008

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Columbus — Parking Lots Provide Streetcar Funds

Rail Transit Online, April 2008

Capital funding for a proposed 2.8-mi. (4.5 km) downtown streetcar route would come from a four-percent surcharge on parking lot charges and on concert and sporting event tickets costing less than $10, plus higher parking meter rates, under a plan endorsed by Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman. The $103-million, north-south line would run along High Street from Mound Street to about the middle of the Ohio State University campus.

Off-street parking facilities within six blocks of the streetcar route would be included in a "benefit zone" and would be subject to the surcharge. However, people who pay to park would get a free ride on the trolley.

Ohio State University has agreed to contribute $12.5 million over a 25-year period beginning in 2010. Coleman's financing plan would also run for 25
years, with the principal and interest on construction bonds being paid off at the rate of $6.9 million annually.

Coleman believes the streetcar will encourage development on a down-at-theheels segment of High Street plagued by vacant buildings and under-utilized land. There appears to be growing political and business community support for the streetcar, although one city councilman said there are several different scenarios that should be explored.

Meanwhile, Central Ohio Transit Authority President and Chief Executive William Lhota said his agency would be willing to operate and maintain the streetcar if it is built. "I think it is a positive because it further ensures it will be seamlessly integrated into the COTA system," Lhota told The Columbus Dispatch.


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