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The Cincinnati Streetcar Saga

Today’s Cincinnati Enquirer has a story that outlines current developments in the city’s effort to build a streetcar line linking downtown and the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, with a proposed uptown extension that would serve the University of Cincinnati and the medical district.

City plan: A streetcar named desire?

The plan to build a downtown Cincinnati trolley system remains, for now, a streetcar named desire.

It’s desire that recession-wracked local companies will help fund the project, desire that Washington provides a very big check and desire that a proposed ballot measure doesn’t derail the whole thing.

Nearly two years after a consultant’s report gave a green light to the streetcar proposal, city leaders hope to move forward this spring by selecting a firm to build, operate and maintain a roughly 6-mile loop linking the downtown riverfront to the Uptown neighborhoods near the University of Cincinnati.

Full Article

I strongly support the streetcar project as a small but important first step in building a new transit infrastructure for Cincinnati. In addition to spurring development in some parts of the city that desperately need it, the streetcar will attract new residents and businesses to the city. For the purposes of my transit master plan, I envision streetcars serving as neighborhood circulators that feed into the regional rail system.

As the article mentions, the streetcar is opposed by COAST and the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP. COAST is a right-wing advocacy group that is opposed to any government spending in general, especially spending that has anything to do with providing social services or improving the quality of life in the city. Local blog The Phoney Coney has an interesting angle on the local NAACP’s motives. Serving as a shill for COAST and the local NAACP is local gadfly Jason Haap, the self-proclaimed “Dean of Cincinnati”. His blog, The Cincinnati Beacon, is a virtual clearinghouse of specious arguments and manufactured controversies surrounding the streetcar project. No doubt you’ll be reading more about these characters on this blog.

In support of the streetcar project are most of the city’s major corporations, Mayor Mark Mallory, and the 9-member city council. Across the river in Northern Kentucky, the cities of Newport and Covington have also passed resolutions in favor of the streetcar, hopeful that their central business districts will eventually be included on the streetcar route. The Cincy Streetcar Blog is a good source of information in support of the streetcar, and includes plenty of links to related sites.