Cincinnati Opts to Move Forward with Streetcar After All
After Mayor John Cranley campaigned on opposition to the project, he announces "we're going to have a streetcar."
Following a mayoral campaign that focused largely on his opposition to the streetcar project, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley announced Thursday "we're going to have a street car."
The decision was the culmination of a roller coaster ride of maneuvering over the future of the $133 million project that supporters said could revive Cincinnat's urban core but opponents say threatened to saddle the city with unsustainable operating costs.
Newly-elected city leaders voted to pause the project earlier this month, but they faced an ultimatum from the Federal Transit Administration: resume it by Dec. 19, or lose $45 million in grant funding that the agency set aside to fund the project. Even worse, the city would have to pay back some of the money it had already spent.
With that deadline looming, the city council voted to save the project on a 6-3 vote Thursday -- a super-majority that prevented any veto by Cranley, WCPO reported.
Audits released this week while the project was on hold showed completing the project would only cost slightly more than canceling it, and a local foundation pledged to contribute $900,000 to help pay for operating costs.
After accounting for revenue from fares and advertising, the system would cost as much as $2.44 million annually to operate, according to an audit.
Cranley hasn't changed his mind about the project but says he won't stand in its way. He told local press that he will neither veto nor sign the council's bill, which will mean it takes effect in a few days.
The streetcar will serve a 3.6-mile loop that serves 18 stations. Advocates have portrayed it as a way to reverse the city's population decline and urban flight while spurring new development.