What does the political shakeup mean for Cincinnati?

No matter which party you subscribe to, and no matter what you think of yesterday’s results one thing is sure. Things most certainly have changed, especially so for the Cincinnati area.

President-elect Barack Obama and running mate Joe Biden have stated their support for rail transit before, with Biden going as far to say “we’ll be the most pro-rail administration ever.” Combine this with the ousting of long-time Congressman Steve Chabot (R) and you have something interesting.

Chabot has long been an opponent to most earmark spending and has not been suportive of transit initiatives in the past. He will now be replaced by westsider Steve Driehaus (D) who has stated that he will “be a strong advocate for this region and a strong advocate for Cincinnati.”

This is leaving many to speculate about increased funding for such prominent local projects like The Banks, Brent Spence Bridge (BSB) replacement, Cincinnati Streetcar initiative, Ohio Hub and others. Many of these seem like reasonable expectations. In the past Chabot had voted against money for The Banks and lobbied against initiatives like the Cincinnati Streetcar.

On top of all of this, you have the Obama/Biden infrastructure proposal that is designed to help rebuild our nation’s infrastructure by investing in people to rebuild bridges, roads, the energy grid, and other things like rail transit. This could mean hundreds of millions of dollars for the Cincinnati region, leaving projects like the Cincinnati Streetcar, BSB, Ohio Hub, and others sitting pretty that have plans in place and are primed to show immediate results from the infusion of federal money.

So whether you like or don’t like the results of yesterday’s election one thing seems for sure. Things are going to change dramatically for Cincinnati’s political landscape and what it influences. Will it be for the better? The jury is still out, but I guess that also depends on how you think of things like The Banks, Cincinnati Streetcar, Ohio Hub and the Brent Spence Bridge.

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By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.