Cincinnati Streetcar Still Has Fighting Chance

Despite facing hostility from a newly-elected mayor, the Cincinnati streetcar project may continue because it if doesn’t the city stands to lose millions in federal grants.

Mayor elect John Cranley will take office on Dec. 1 and he vowed during his campaign to kill the streetcar project, which he described as fiscally irresponsible.

However, last Monday Federal Transit Administration Chief Counsel Dorval Carter said that if Cincinnati ends the the project it would lose $40.9 million in federal grants with an additional $4 million in federal funds possibly being transferred to the state government for other purposes. Carter said even a delay of the project for re-evalution could jeopardize the federal funds

Cranley has said that he wants to redirect the funds being used for the streetcar project to other purposes.

Construction of the 3.6-mile streetcar line began in August. Cincinnati has spent an estimated $33 million on the project thus far.

The streetcar project has survived numerous attacks from state officials, suburban opponents and other critics. It has been the subject of ballot issues in which Cincinnati voters favored continuing the project.

Proponents of the streetcar project say that one city council member-elect who also ran against the streetcar line has indicated that he will vote to allow the project to continue, citing financial realities and the ongoing construction.

Streetcar advocates say one more such vote would result in a 5-to-4 outcome that would enable the streetcar project to continue to implementation.

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