Time to fight for light rail and streetcars in Cincinnati – AGAIN

It appears as if the special interest group that led the effort to require a vote on all passenger rail transportation in Cincinnati is now leading an effort to outright ban all passenger rail transportation in Cincinnati.

The anti-spending group COAST evidently did not get the message from Cincinnatians who voted nearly 2:1 in November 2009 when they voted in support of passenger rail. So, after asking if city residents wanted to vote on every passenger rail investment, and getting a resounding no, they are doing what they want and asking city residents to vote on passenger rail investments. Specifically at hand would be any investments in streetcars or light rail for the next decade.

The vote that will decide whether or not to ban passenger rail in Cincinnati for the next decade, whether it is fully funded by whatever funding source, will more than likely occur this May in a special election that will cost taxpayers $400,000.

So for those that have yet to see a modern streetcar, you can check out this video on the modern streetcar design that may be used for Cincinnati’s fully funded streetcar system that is about to begin construction and be operational by 2013. If you need more information on Cincinnati’s streetcar project, check out the CincyStreetcar Blog for regular updates and information or CincinnatiStreetcar.com for official project details, studies and reports.

  • Dan

    What we have here are hypocrites who want to waste tax payer dollars on another vote because they didn’t get their way the first time. Keep wasting tax payer dollars on stupid issues that have already been voted down over and over again. Isn’t there some law against this? The VOTERS HAVE ALREADY SPOKEN

  • We have to do everything we can to stop this job killing anti-streetcar initiative.

  • With gasoline prices on the rise, do voters really want to limit the city’s transportation options to car(gas) and bus(diesel) for another ten years?

  • Dan

    Yeah, let’s all get locked into spending $5+ a gallon on gas with ZERO public transportation options. Not to mention the impact on development and JOBS. People in this county/city want JOBS right? Guess what, public transportation attracts business and residents which = JOBS. Something the new idiot in Columbus, and his sidekicks in Anderson flat out don’t get.

  • Mike

    That is a good idea, waste 400K on a special vote to just because you lost. They should have to pay for the special vote. Deal with it COAST! The people have spoken and want more transit options. Why has Cincinnati been this way ever since it existed? Look at the Roebling Suspension Bridge, it started with that and the same with the Subway.

  • Ryan L

    Also, with the proposed budget by the Republican majority in Congress, we can’t expect ANY future funding for new transportation projects. We need to build this thing NOW!

  • I find this move by COAST interesting for two primary reasons.

    1) This will end up costing the taxpayers money for a special election at the very least. If the election is moved to November construction will already be well underway and a vote will jeopordize millions of dollars of contracts that will have been awarded, infrastructure improvements made, and will force the city to return (or have revoked) the tens of millions of dollars worth of state and federal funding.

    2) Voting specifically on the Cincinnati Streetcar and any potential light rail investment goes directly against the will of the voters when they were asked in 2009 if they wanted to hold special elections for passenger rail transportation projects in the future. They said no, but COAST and their special interest political backers don’t seem to care. They just seem hell bent on doing anything in their power to keep Cincinnati from getting rail transit.

  • Scott Griffith

    These are the same people who criticize California’s budget problems because of reliance on governance through ballot initiative.

    I’m also tired of hearing what non-voters think of Cincinnati’s initiatives. If you want a say, move to the city.

  • Ryan L

    I don’t understand their motivation, let alone their strong opposition to just the streetcar/rail projects. There are plenty of other money they should be focused on. The current marijuana laws costs the city $400,000 per year (i think thats the cost). There are rumors of expanding I-74 East to the carolinas. I have never heard of an organization so hell bent on making something not happen. And they claim to know what doesn’t work, yet never propose solutions. Any time I ask them to comment with solutions, they are silent. COAST should change there name to SARS (Stop Anything but Road Subsidies). #venting #preachingtothechoir

  • Robert Croswell

    The influence of Chris Smitherman as the NAACP president cannot be ignored–he has proven himself to be a political opportunist who cares nothing about progress or modernity in Cincinnati. Unfortunately, this professional troublemaker will once again be running for city council (and possibly mayor). He is truly this city’s “Freddy Krueger,” a rabble-rouser who just won’t go away.

  • I know I’m SMH-ing to the choir. The NAACP has campaigned for African American inclusion in construction projects. I wonder why they don’t want to see some inclusion in the streetcar project?

  • AJ Knee

    As Randy pointed out, the vote in November 2009 wasn’t a NO on stopping the streetcar construction. It was in face a NO on having to vote on passenger rail projects in the future. This special election isn’t a rehash of the 2009 election, it specifically goes against the outcome of the 2009 election.

    Who has the authority to throw this vote out?

  • OTR Family Man

    The streetcar brings more jobs, more residents in the city, a greater tax base, retaining young workers and talent—a city that can compete and thrive. Those against the streetcar appear to be opposing Cincinnati growth.

  • Eric

    How is COAST’s dubious efforts even legal? Why aren’t we starting to build the damn streetcar NOW? It’s already been passed….get ON with it, Cincinnati!

    Some up-and-coming lawyer should find a way to sue the pants off COAST and its members. This is ridiculous.

  • Issue 9 was not defeated by “nearly 2:1”. It was 54% to 46%, which is much much too close considering how awful an amendment it was. That makes me fearful that this time the vote could swing in the other direction. The opposition seems to be fairly well organized, putting together form letters and lists of contacts to mail them to, etc. Supporters need that same, and BETTER ammo. Not everybody knows who to contact, since there’s different levels of government involved between the city and this ballot initiative to ODOT and the TRAC program. Who at the city besides the mayor and council members should be contact? Who at ODOT? Anyone at Hamilton County? OKI?

    AJ make an interesting point that since the Issue 9 vote was on voting, and the opposition is now trying to do another vote, then that does seem rather dubious. However I suspect that since Issue 9 didn’t pass, and thus nothing was changed, then there’s nothing currently on the books to prevent it from coming up again. There may still be some grounds for challenging it, but somehow I doubt it would pass muster.

  • MrMDP

    This is an attempt by Christopher Smitherman and his cronies to yet again make a name for themselves because they have no real agenda. The need for better Public Transportation in this city is so obvious it is beyond a stark reality.

    The COAST folks believe their ideas are correct just because they do not support the idea of streetcars. The group never stops to take in consideration the benefits a system like this can bring to a city. Let alone the advantages of being able to travel through the city and eventually elsewhere on a Light Rail System.

  • Zachary Schunn

    Isn’t COAST a local anti-tax group? And isn’t the streetcar to be completely funded by federal/state transportation dollars and bond issues?

    I still fail to see why a local anti-tax group would be so avidly against a project that doesn’t use any local tax dollars, and is projected to spark development that would raise property tax revenue and thus make higher income tax rates less necessary. It’s called simple math. What’s the expected ROI on this, like 40%? 50%?

    There needs to be seriously organized support for the streetcar. So far it’s just a few individual groups.

  • This is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. Why, why why vote again on something people already want?

    Anyone remember this?: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_American_streetcar_scandal

    This isn’t really an issue of us vs. them, or urbanites vs suburbanites, it’s about progressing the city and improving the quality of life, for everyone.

  • Justin

    This is so frustrating…I am literally having a hard time quelling the anger that I have for COAST and their hypocritical, uninformed actions.

    Cincinnatians for Progress will be holding a kick-off event to combat this lunacy at Grammers on Wed 2/16 from 6-8. I am hoping to focus my anger and frustration into productive actions to help stop this job-killing, anti-Cincinnati initiative.