Cincinnati streetcar

A Cincinnati Council Committee tasked with overseeing the streetcar project wants more information on different ways to pay for it.  Those funds could be used to extend it to the Uptown area near the University of Cincinnati, or for dollars to operate the loop now being built in Downtown and Over-the-Rhine.  

The Major Transportation Committee Tuesday asked for more details on special improvement districts or special assessment districts.

Provided / City of Cincinnati

Cincinnati officials said Wednesday they still do not know the cost of delaying work on the streetcar project for most of last month.  They're still calculating that number and also the effect on the timeline to build the first phase.  

Council delayed the project for several weeks before deciding on December 19th to let it move forward.  Officials also say the cold weather has caused some delays.  

The first actual streetcar will arrive in the city in March 2015.  

An independent audit of the streetcar shows it would cost from $25 million to $50 million more to complete the project than to stop it, the mayor rejected an offer by the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) to cover streetcar operating costs, and council is meeting this afternoon to continue debate. With the deadline to receive federal money fast approaching. How things stand now with the streetcar.

Update 12/18/13 @ 9:30 PM: 

Cincinnati Council will likely vote Thursday on whether the city's controversial streetcar project will continue. 

Construction has been on hold since December 4th.  Now the group will decide whether to let work resume or finally pull the plug on the plan. 

So far the city has spent $34 million on the streetcar project.  An independent audit firm reported Wednesday it will cost anywhere from $16 to $46 million to cancel the streetcar or about $69 million to complete it. 

Update 12/17/13 @ 6:20 PM:  Council members Young, Simpson and Seelbach released a statement on SORTA's offer to take responsibility for streetcar operating cost.  A portion reads:

Six Council members sent a letter to the Federal Transit Administration about the city's streetcar project.  The text of the letter is below.

Meanwhile, Council is scheduled to hear public comments again on the project Wednesday afternoon starting at 1:30.  The streetcar committee will hold a meeting Thursday at 9 a.m. to learn more about an audit to determine the costs of stopping the project versus continuing it.  The full Council will meet Thursday at 2 p.m. to take a vote on stopping or continuing the project.

FTA letter:

Dear Mr. Rogoff:

OK, let’s get this straight.

This new mayor of Cincinnati, John Cranley, ran this fall and won big on a platform where the top three priorities were this:

  1. Kill the streetcar project.
  2. Kill the streetcar project
  3. Kill the streetcar project.

Several days ago, he seemed well on the way to doing just that.

Provided from City of Cincinnati

Federal transit officials Friday morning refused Mayor John Cranley's request to extend the Dec. 19 deadline for pulling $45 million in federal money from the streetcar project.

But the mayor's spokesman, Jay Kincaid, says Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff did agree to talk to pro-streetcar advocates to allow them to make a pitch for more time.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Streetcar supporters are launching a campaign to put a charter amendment on the February ballot forcing the city to finish the streetcar. The group We Believe in Cincinnati says it needs 5,700 signatures but is aiming for 12,000 by Saturday.

  Cincinnati’s new mayor and city council were sworn in Sunday, and, as expected, most of their focus this week has been on the streetcar. Just yesterday, council voted to suspend construction while an audit is done to determine the costs involved in continuing or abandoning the project. We hear arguments for stopping the project from Vice Mayor David Mann and Council Member Kevin Flynn.

City of Cincinnati

  P.G. Sittenfeld and Chris Seelbach are among the Cincinnati City Council members who want to see the streetcar move forward. We hear why they believe it would be unwise to abandon the streetcar project at this point.

Provided from City of Cincinnati

Update 12/6/13:

Mayor Cranley on his Facebook page says, at his request, the Federal Transportation Administration has decided to hold off on canceling the streetcar project until December 19 to allow city to make a final decision.

Update 12/4/13 9:00 PM:

Construction on most parts of Cincinnati's streetcar project will be coming to a halt.  But that's not to say you won't see some workers on the job in parts of Downtown or Over-the-Rhine. 

Provided from City of Cincinnati

Five of the nine Cincinnati City Council members are expected to vote Wednesday to temporarily suspend work and spending on the streetcar project.  That majority says the pause will allow leaders to figure out the true costs of cancelling the program compared to how much it would cost to complete the first phase of the project. 

Council will vote on 11 streetcar related ordinances.   They all contain monetary appropriations, which likely mean streetcar supporters cannot seek a referendum to overturn them. 

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Cincinnati Council will hold another special session Tuesday afternoon to continue discussion about pausing construction and spending on the streetcar project.