Streetcar is back on track

Dec 19, 2013

Flynn (center) flanked by Mann (L) and Cranley (R) says he's holding signed papers from the Haile Foundation committing $9 million in operating costs.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU

"We're going to have a streetcar," says Mayor John Cranley.

Council member Kevin Flynn says he has secured $900,000 per year for 10 years (total = $9 million) from the Haile Foundation to operate the streetcar.

Cranley says he still opposes the project but he won't stop what City Council has decided to move forward on. He will not, however, sign the legislation. "Like I tell my son when he doesn't get his way, it's time to move on." He says he'll be providing project oversight and asking lots of questions to make sure it comes in on time and under budget.

Flynn says his vote is not one against Mayor Cranley. He says now Council and private and public partners must make sure the project is successful.

Council votes 6-3 to restart construction on the streetcar.

For: Young, Flynn, Mann, Seelbach, Simpson, Sittenfeld.

Against: Smitherman, Winburn, Murray.

Work is expected to resume in a few days. The system is scheduled to be ready for passengers in 2016.

In a statement, Federal Transit Authority Administrator Peter Rogoff says, "We commend the leadership of Cincinnati for moving forward on a project that holds the real promise of transforming Cincinnati communities and accelerating economic growth in the region.  These are the benefits that the U.S. Department of Transportation saw when we chose to invest nearly $45 million in the city’s bold vision.  Now, we can all get back to work as partners to get the streetcar project done.”

Council members David Mann and Kevin Flynn were part of the group that voted two weeks ago to pause the project. But both said at the time they had open minds about restarting it after getting an independent audit of the costs of stopping or continuing the plan.

Cranley could have vetoed the Council vote but did not. He will not sign the legislation, meaning it will go into affect in four days. He adds it is time to switch Council's attention to getting the city's financial house in order. He says he still believes the project will put basic city services like police and fire at risk. He also noted Thursday's vote will make doing so more difficult.

Eric Avner with the Haile Foundation wouldn't say who has come forward to contribute to the $9 million the foundation is committing. He also says the foundation believes in the project and believes it will be successful. He says they see the money as a backstop.

Before voting council members took turns thanking everyone who worked on the issue and stating that they're ready to move forward on other city issues.

Here's how Council Members are reacting on Twitter: