The cost of building the first phase of the Cincinnati streetcar project could have just increased by $15 million.
A Hamilton County Common Pleas Court judge ruled Tuesday the city cannot force Duke Energy to pay the costs of moving underground utilities along the streetcar route. Duke estimated the cost at $15 million. The city had set aside that amount from the sale of the Blue Ash Airport in case the judge ruled in Duke's favor.
Cincinnati will appeal the decision. In a statement, City Manager Harry Black writes:
Cincinnati Council has approved a three part plan to pay for operating costs of the Cincinnati streetcar.
It includes a mix of fares and advertising income, parking meter revenues from downtown and Over-the-Rhine, and changes to the city's abatement policies asking developers to contribute money to a fund to help with operating costs.
Mayor John Cranley called the plan creative even though he said he still believes the streetcar project is a mistake.
Streetcar track work is now moving into Cincinnati's Central Business District and that likely will continue through early 2015 as part of the $133 million project.
"Seeing the track on Walnut Street is an exciting milestone in the construction process," said project executive John Deatrick in a statement. "It's a sign the streetcar is getting closer to achieving our goal to connect two major downtown neighborhoods: Over-the-Rhine and the Central Business District."