Thursday, May 05, 2011

Cincinnati streetcar construction plans revised

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Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr., in a move widely anticipated by pro-rail activists, have announced a revised construction plan for the Cincinnati Streetcar project that will use the $99 million in funding that has already been identified and secured.

Under a new plan, the city will move forward with a $95 million, four-mile, first segment of the Streetcar line from Fountain Square to Findlay Market. The revamped decision comes after Cincinnati was denied nearly $52 million in state funding toward the project, previously approved but then rescinded per the wishes of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who also rejected federal funds for higher-speed rail (HrSR) development on the state's “3C” route linking Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

Opponents to the streetcar plan had hoped the state rescission would kill the project, despite almost $25 million in federal fiscal support announced last July, along with roughly $64 million generated by city and other local sources. But Mayor Mallory remains “a determined streetcar advocate, and won’t give up easily,” one rail advocate familiar with the project says.

The mayor’s own published comments reinforce that belief. “The vision for the project remains the same. We are going to build a streetcar that connects Downtown to Uptown and then we are going to build out into the neighborhoods,” Mallory said. “We are going to get started with the funding that we have in hand. We must move forward in order to attract jobs and residents to our region.” 

Mallory and other supporters say they will continue do pursue additional funding for a second stage of the line.