Friday, May 24, 2013

County interests slam Cincinnati streetcar

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In Ohio, two Hamilton County commissioners are actively moving to thwart Cincinnati streetcar development, urging the Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana Regional Council of Governments to withdraw $4 million in funding for the project.

The move comes as Cincinnati strives to fill a $17.4 million funding shortfall for the $115 million, 3.6-mile initial streetcar line. The city last April ordered up to five cars from CAP USA, to be assembled at the company's plant in Elmira, N.Y.

Cincinnati officials contend that the commissioners suggestion to redirect the funding runs counter to intent of the Federal Transit Administration, which authorized the funding through the three-state Council of Governments en route to the Southwest Ohio Regional Transportation Authority.

The dispute is one of several in the U.S. where state and/or county interests have tried to block streetcar development within a hub city. Cincinnati's predicament in some ways mirrors that of Milwaukee, where the city's namesake county has long been antipathetic to city transit planning, and opposes a Milwaukee streetcar plan.

Charlotte, N.C. also has clashed with state officials over its proposed 2.5-mile streetcar extension, now renamed the CityLynx Gold Line, though a resolution appears to be developing there.