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Steve Chabot Attempts to Overturn the Will of Cincinnati Voters

There they go again. After two failed initiatives (Issue 9 and Issue 48) to defeat fixed rail public transportation at the ballot boxes, enemies of the Cincinnati Streetcar project are once again moving to bar the city from completing what has been billed as crucial to the economic development of Over-the-Rhine and downtown. This time they found an ally at the congressional level.

Last week, Representative Steve Chabot (R), Ohio’s District One representative, and native of the west side of Cincinnati coyly inserted an amendment into the Transportation Housing and Urban Development (THUD) bill that would bar the use of federal dollars in funding any project in Cincinnati that is on a “fixed guideway” system. The bill is currently in the Senate where it will be voted on and forwarded to the President for his signature should it pass.

The amendment, which reads, “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to design, construct, or operate a fixed guideway project located in Cincinnati, Ohio,” is designed as an attempt to stop the Cincinnati Streetcar project. The amendment’s language mirrors that of both Issue’s 9 & 48 but has even broader and more far reaching consequences than either of the two failed ballot initiatives.

According to the Federal government, a fixed guideway is defined as:

Any transit service that uses exclusive or controlled rights-of-way or rails, entirely or in part. The term includes heavy rail, commuter rail, light rail, monorail, trolleybus, aerial tramway, inclined plane, cable car, automated guideway transit, ferryboats, that portion of motor bus service operated on exclusive or controlled rights-of-way, and high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes.

This broad definition means that not only would the amendment preclude that no federal funding go towards the streetcar project but that federal funds would also be barred from being used towards any improvement of the following city projects:

  • Upgrading the city’s overcrowded freight rail system: The city has previously asked for state and federal funding to add a “fourth main” freight rail line expanding the regions freight rail capacity and reducing the impact of an existing freight rail bottleneck along the three main freight lines adjacent to the Mill Creek. The City can’t even ask for this solution if the amendment goes forward.
  • Development of the city’s Bus Rapid Transit system: SORTA and the City have been conducting studies on implementing BRT on several streets in Cincinnati including Reading Road and Montgomery Road. This amendment will make it impossible for the project to utilize much needed federal funds to buy buses and construct stops and street improvements.
  • Development of the Eastern Corridor and Wasson Line for light or commuter rail: Both of these rail lines would connect downtown to the east side of the city. Without federal funds neither project can even be studied. This includes any study on the possibility of a “Rails and trails” combined bicycle path on the Wasson Line.

This amendment is a poison pill meant to punish the progress of Cincinnati and its revitalizing urban core and overrules and ignores the will of the city electorate. It serves only the shortsighted will of vocal minority and threatens to leave our entire metropolitan region at a competitive disadvantage against other regions as we move towards a 21st century economy.

We strongly urge supporters of transportation infrastructure to write Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown (D) and Rob Portman (R) to remove this overly restrictive language from the THUD bill. Additionally, we encourage supporters of transportation infrastructure in Ohio’s First Congressional District to give Representative Chabot an earful over this callous disregard towards voters in his home district.

Happy Independence Day!

News Politics Transportation

Cincinnatians show their support for strong public assets

After a long and tiring campaign, Cincinnatians cast their votes and made it loud and clear that they are supportive of passenger rail in Cincinnati. With all the votes in, Issue 9 has been defeated 56.2% to 43.8%.

But in a night of many important issues, Cincinnatians showed their support for strong public assets even during tough economic times. Levies for the Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati/Hamilton County Public Library System, and Cincinnati Public Schools all passed along with others. Mayor Mallory won his reelection bid and the Anti-Passenger Rail Amendment was defeated.

As Carol Coletta said, “It’s a great day to live in Cincinnati. Citizens vote to support library, Museum Center, and stopped non-support of transit.”


Get out and vote!

Be sure to get out and vote today regardless of your political leanings or beliefs. This election is an extremely important one for Cincinnati as voters decide on the fate of the City’s Water Works department, whether or not passenger rail transportation is something we support or place additional red tape around, whether we want casinos in Ohio and one at Broadway Commons, whether we want to provide funding for the Cincinnati Museum Center and our public library system.

It’s no secret that those of us here at UrbanCincy feel strongly about many of these issues, but most notably, we urge you to VOTE NO ON ISSUE 9. The passage of Issue 9 will create additional red tape and government inefficiencies. It will cost taxpayers money and leave Cincinnati out of the loop for key federal funding cycles.

The polls are open from 6:30am to 7:30pm. Find your polling location here. Go out and support a local business as you watch the results come in. Grammer’s will be updating results live, and Arnold’s Bar & Grill will be the official election night party for Cincinnatians for Progress and the No on 9 campaign.


Don’t Be Tricked, Vote No on Issue 9 Party

On Friday, October 30 you are invited to join UrbanCincy at Neon’s Unplugged for the Don’t Be Tricked, Vote No on Issue 9 Party. At the party will be a variety of local celebrities, drinks provided by Christian Moerlein, food from Kroeger & Sons Meats, live music Jim Kennedy, bocce ball, and much more.

The festivities start at 6pm and will last until 1am. There is no cover to get in, but food and drinks are cash only. Please come out and support Cincinnati by showing your opposition to the Anti-Passenger Rail Amendment Cincinnatians will be voting on this Tuesday, November 3.

Issue 9 may end up being a tricky one for Cincinnati voters given the broad wording used and the unclear meaning of what a no and a yes vote mean. Issue 9 proponent Chris Smitherman might have said it best on the very ballot language he helped craft with his buddies at COAST.

“This is nothing short of madness and political corruption. There is no explanation for a Yes meaning No and a No meaning Yes. This is not a tradition, but an attempt to trick voters.”

Don’t be tricked. Vote no on Issue 9 this Tuesday, November 3rd and help keep Cincinnati moving forward. Cincinnati does not need any more red tape of confusing Charter language. Feel free to come in costume if you would like. The party is a come and go as you please event. Please tell your friends and make it part of your Friday night plans.


Important videos to watch about Cincinnati’s Issue 9