A decade later, Cincinnati still debating streetcar issue

More than a decade has passed since Cincinnati’s debate over building modern streetcars began. During that time Cincinnatians have consistently voted in a majority of City Council and a Mayor that support the idea of building a modern streetcar system, regional planning, Cincinnatians have cast their votes in favor of not one but two public votes on the project, national acclaim, completion of 100% designs, purchasing agreements, operation agreements, an official groundbreaking, and city officials have secured the necessary funding to build the first phase of the project from the central riverfront to the northern reaches of Over-the-Rhine.

After all of this, we think it is time to move on and focus on other issues facing our city. Issues like pension reform, public safety, bicycle infrastructure, zoning code reform, economic development in all 52 neighborhoods, the enhancement of public services Cincinnatians have grown to love, and many more. Mayoral candidate John Cranley (D), however, does not seem to agree. More from CityBeat:

The public spotlight is nothing new for Cincinnati’s $125 million streetcar project, but it’s a factor supporters are getting increasingly tired of dealing with. Facing new delays and political controversy, the streetcar is once again in the news — and, for better or worse, this year’s mayoral campaign will keep it there for much of the coming year.

Despite the streetcar’s momentum — which proponents admit was literally slowed by recent news of the project’s delay until 2016 — the project will serve as one of the main talking points for former council member John Cranley in his attempt to beat out current vice mayor and council member Roxanne Qualls, a streetcar supporter, for the mayor’s seat in November.

But should it? At this point, most of the funding for the first phase of the streetcar is set, and voters have approved the project twice through the 2009 and 2011 referendums.

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  • GAWDDAMMIT I would love to get on with my life, unfortunately the haters are tireless. It seems like the supporters have to expend 100x the energy the haters do because people uneducated about its benefits can be swayed by simple buzzwords.

  • Very few CINCINNATIANS are debating streetcars. The debate is almost entirely among NON-CINCINNATIANS. The residents of Ft. Thomas, Colerain Township, and Clermont County are far more passionate about streetcars (in a negative way) than most Cincinnatians are.

    • Mayoral candidate John Cranley, however, lives on Cincinnati’s east side in Mt. Lookout.

    • That’s one then. Though he is a Cincinnatian in the most technical sense.

  • I agree that we should not be debating the streetcar. We should be debating the timeline of its completion and demanding that it be placed on the ‘fast track’ to completion prior to the 2015 MLB All Star game. This is not the time to fold. This is the time to double down.

  • Has it been 10 years already? It seems like just yesterday we were demanding an up/down vote on the streetcar boondoggle so Cincinnatians could speak with one voice on it. Oh well; we lost, so the debate rages on. It would have been nice to have had the matter settled officially before proceeding.

    It’s kind of anticlimactic though. You all got your way at every turn, but you don’t really seem happy about it. You won every battle decisively, but never really captured the hearts and minds of the people. So it’s become a quagmire. That makes it really tough to craft a face-saving exit strategy. Good luck with that.

    • CincyCapell

      You got TWO up or down votes, and lost them both. Your mayoral and Council candidates lost. The only “debate” that continues is among people like yourselves who do not live in Cincinnati. Unfortunately for you Chris Finney has now admitted that the streetcar will be built and we are past the point of turning back. However that won’t stop the shyster from filing lawsuit after lawsuit in order to line his own pockets.

    • The debate rages on for two reasons:

      1) COAST will not, and has not, stop harassing those who support the project either directly or indirectly (see City of Blue Ash).

      2) Those who wish to gain power in the City of Cincinnati must do so against an extremely popular mayor who has made the streetcar project one of the centerpieces of his administration. Therefore, if you’re going to run against Mayor Mallory or Vice Mayor Qualls, then you absolutely must differentiate yourself from them, and there seems to be no more thoughtful way to do that than by opposing the streetcar project.

  • That was a great article. Well written and in depth. I’m lukewarm on the streetcar myself, but now that it’s this far along I tend to me in the camp of Derek below. The timeline (and maybe costs too) are creeping and if we’re really going to do this project someone needs to step up and hold people accountable to the timeline and budget. The All-Star Game gives a great target starting date to shoot for and it would be worth while to hit for the PR alone. (The Banks used Opening Day as a target for Holy Grail, so that’s one example of why that’s good) BTW One-year to train and “burn in” the rails seems unnecessary? What are they going to drive it around town for a year and not let people ride?

  • John Schneider

    Streetcar trackway construction will commence in OTR in April. Since almost all of the underground utilities in OTR have now been moved and since almost all of Duke’s facilities there are overhead, track work in OTR will go pretty fast. The city could, if it wanted to, close the OTR loop north of 12th Street and begin burning-in the vehicles and training the operators sometime in late 2014.
    There will be a boatload of streetcar news soon. I’m not worried at all.

    • John’s right. It shouldn’t take Duke more than a day or two to relocate all of those overhead natural gas lines. 😉

    • CincyCapell

      Will Mark Miller have a job by 2014? 2015?? Or will Mark’s sole purpose in life still be tweeting by then? Enquirering minds wnt yo know…..

    • He doesn’t have a job now. Nor does he have a vote in Cincinnati.

    • No gas lines need to be moved.

  • MrCincyMan

    Is there only one person at “Coast”, because I only ever see one word ever used and that’s boondoggle. So it’s either just one person that does the posting for Coast or maybe a Thesaurus is needed. Whomever it is, they need to get over this issue with the streetcar and realize that if you were to stop this now, it would be a huge waste of money. But that seems like the type of irrational thoughts that come out of Coast. And for a person like John Cranley to run for Mayor and try to stop a project midway through that has been approved twice by voters, is not a mayor for the people, it’s a person running for their own interest.