Friday, February 01, 2013

Cincinnati, Duke Energy reach streetcar accord

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Cincinnati officials Friday said they have signed two agreements with Duke Energy Corp. resolving a conflict generated by the city's initial streetcar line, now under construction.

Mayor Mark Mallory said the city and Duke will let the judicial system decide who pays for utility movement required to advance the project. City Manager Milton Dohoney said the agreements have been signed, and Duke will begin work shortly.

"From the beginning, I said that we would come to agreement with Duke, and we have," Mallory said in a statement. "Duke Energy is one of the City of Cincinnati's strongest corporate partners, and they will be strong partners as we build the Streetcar and continue to grow our city."

Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy had protested paying for any repositioning of infrastructure underneath city streets once the streetcar right-of-way was established, suggesting the city should bear the cost of such needs. Such disputes have begun to occur in other U.S. municipalities advancing streetcar startups.

The announcement Friday comes one day after Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls asked the city manager to expedite the streetcar project so that revenue operation would be in place in time for Major League Baseball's 2015 All-Star Game at Great American Ballpark. Mayor Mallory on Friday affirmed the new targeted startup date.

Qualls, who supports the 4.9-mile streetcar line, is running for mayor this year, hoping to succeed Mayor Mark Mallory, also a staunch and vocal supporter of the rail project.