Provided / City of Cincinnati

Attention graphic designers and marketing firms: now's your chance to layout your vision for the Cincinnati Streetcar.

Metro has released a Request for Proposals for branding the streetcar including a logo and guidelines for how it should be used on everything "related to streetcar operations, including vehicles, signs, operators’ uniforms, website, and printed materials."

You'll need to work fast, the deadline for submissions is Friday, May 23.

Downtown Cincinnati is full of flashing construction arrow signs and traffic cones blocking streets...causing delays for workers and visitors.  

City spokeswoman Meg Olberding said it is part of a "growth explosion."

“In my time at the city, I don’t remember quite this much construction happening in a concentrated area of the CBD, The banks and Over-the-Rhine,” Olberding said.  “Obviously you do one thing one place, and it has a ripple effect.”

There are various projects including streetcar construction, Duke Energy utility work and private developments.  

Cincinnati officials now say the nearly three week pause in construction on the city's streetcar project cost nearly $1 million.  That includes more than $637,000 for contractors.

“Cost directly associated with the pause itself for MPD and its subcontractors,” said Chris Eilerman, streetcar project manager.  “So it’s largely go to be down time, idle equipment time, those kind of costs basically incurred during the pause itself.”

MPD is a partnership of three companies working on the streetcar project.  They include Messer, Prus, and Delta.

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.  

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.

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:

Ann Thompson / WVXU

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, who campaigned and won on a promise to kill the $133 million streetcar project, cracked open to the door to a deal with streetcar supporters that could allow the project to go forward.

In a city hall press conference this morning, Cranley said he would work with streetcar supporters to find institutions or foundations in the private sector to pay the approximately $80 million it would take to maintain and operate the system.

It is not something the city can do without private help, Cranley said.

  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.

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.