As City Council prepares to make a crucial vote on whether to “pause” or continue the streetcar project, designer Giacomo Ciminello compiled a visual of the costs for both pausing and continuing with the project. The initial estimate shows a $400,000 difference between the two options. However with one option, $147 million will result in a streetcar and the other option would leave taxpayers footing a $147 million cancellation bill to have nothing built.
Council argues the $3-4 million annual operating costs of the streetcar rationalize their decision to spend the same amount of money to cancel the streetcar than to complete it, as they would be saving money in the long run. Earlier this week, project executives explained many options to pay for operating costs which would remove the burden from the city budget, and even allow the streetcar to operate “in the black,” turning a profit.
The vote on “pausing” the streetcar will not only define Cincinnati’s view on progress, but also on fiscal responsibility.
Have you heard people referring to the Cincinnati Streetcar as a “trolley?” It’s a dated and inaccurate term. Here’s why:
A frequently asked question about the Cincinnati streetcar is, “When is it coming to my neighborhood?”
Currently, the City of Cincinnati is focused on building the current 3.6 mile loop around the Central Business District and Over-The-Rhine, where the most employers and revenue-generating entertainment is located. The next phase of the streetcar is expected to travel north on Vine Street to Uptown, Corryville, and Clifton.
But then where will it go?
It’s hard to say, as the City of Cincinnati is only 30% into its research on planning the Uptown phase. In the meantime, a University of Cincinnati student earning his Masters of Architecture outlined a longer streetcar route for an academic project. The design for this theoretical streetcar route is based on the current streetcar route, the 2002 Metro Moves light rail initiative developed by the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, and the 2030 Regional Transportation Plan unanimously adopted in 2008 by the OKI Regional Council of Governments.
The light green route represents the streetcar line, and its possibility to expand outward to such neighborhoods as Westwood, Price Hill, and Camp Washington on the west side, northward to Avondale and Northside, and encompass Walnut Hills, Oakley, and Columbia-Tusculum on the east side. The academic project, entitled Metro|Cincinnati, also includes route projections for commuter rail, heavy rail (such as a subway), and extensions into Northern Kentucky.
While it will be up to the city to chart the course of the streetcar to its next neighborhood, it’s likely that it will be one or more of the communities highlighted on the Metro|Cincinnati map.
In a recent interview with CityBeat about the streetcar, Cincinnati mayoral candidate, John Cranley stated:
“Stop the reckless spending. Eight weeks between now and the swearing in of the next mayor is not going to change anything for their schedule, but it wastes money if I’m elected.”
Delaying a construction project is not as simple as turning off a light switch. In fact, it would cost more money to temporarily halt the project than by allowing it to continue. From compensating construction workers to rescheduling pending equipment rentals and supply deliveries, here’s a breakdown of what’s involved in the process of an 8-week delay: