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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cranley: LOTS of Streetcar Questions

UPDATE: Councilman Chris Bortz (streetcars are his baby) says this afternoon that he welcomes Cranley's questions and he's OK with taking whatever time is needed to get them answered.

"Many of the questions that Councilman Cranley has raised are critically important and we need to find answers for them."

Councilman John Cranley, chairman of the finance committee, says he'll schedule a committee hearing about the proposal to bring streetcars to Cincinnati - as soon as he gets answers from the city administration to his questions about the plan.

Nine pages worth of questions. Among them: what's the population of Over-the-Rhine? How long does it take to walk from Fountain Square to Findlay Market? What projects will need to be cut to fund the streetcar?

What do you think? Is Cranley asking legitimate questions? Or trying to sabotage the idea?

Read all his questions here.


at 11:51 AM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just have the Greater Cincinnati Water Works pay for it. Dave Rager will go for the idea.

at 12:04 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

It takes over 30 min to walk from Findlay Market to Fountain Square, not sure why that's a question, if he thought about it for as long as it took him to type the question, he would have figured it out!
Population of OTR??? Isn't the point of this to bring more people downtown, to shop and live? It's growing!!! What difference does it make how many people live there right this sec?

The big issue downtown with public transport, IT ONLY GOES NORTH SOUTH!!! I live on Liberty, one of the biggest sreets in the city, NOT ONE BUS GOES EAST TO WEST, WHAT'S UP THIT THAT!!!
Just fix it!!!
Why do I live downtown and find it easier to shop in Kenwood!!!

at 12:07 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are legitimate questions. Better to ask them now and then decide to proceed, rather than wait until its being built when it's too late to ask them.

I'm surprisingly neutral about this idea of streetcars: I can see benefits of both having them and saving the money to not have them. As long as the public is asked to pick up any part of the tab, all questions are good.

at 12:27 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember: If you are in support of this idea of streetcars, these questions need to be asked now. Because if you don't, the NIMBY's will kill this project.

In liberal cities, you spend first then ask questions later. While this is a great way to often be at the cutting edge of things, it also leads to boondoggles, pork spending, and money that could have in retrospect been better used elsewhere (Big Dig in Boston, etc.)

In conservative cities, you ask questions first then spend later. While this often means some cutting edge ideas get put on the permanent backburner, it also means that the projects you do build have a better chance of being generally accepted.

Now admittingly, Cincinnati often goes too far towards the 'do nothing' end of the spectrum (The Banks, e.g.), but that doesn't mean we should do a 180 and embrace The.Next.Big.Thing simply because we haven't done one in a while. Do we need to remind ourselves about the Freedom Center fiasco? The Bengals stadium? Those still leave a bitter taste among many in this city when it comes to public projects. Don't forget that.

at 12:32 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if streetcars are the answer, but his questions are ridiculous. This is what makes our city 10 years late on everything is because we have to have a Council meeting to study and debate the most irrelevant and obvious points. Questions are necessary for anything involving public money, but make them pertinent!

Ideally, I'd like to have a comprehensive system that makes it so that you don't have to own a car. But we voted that down four years ago, and I don't know if a partial system will do much.

- Tim

at 12:39 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

why not have them get off their @**es and actually fund a mass transit system that works (aka a subway/light rail combo)that is why cincinnati will only have mediocre growth...look at the NY metroplex or SF...its easier to get around (without having to worry as much about weather) and more consistent. that would be beneficial to the whole region. have light rail lines go above and beyond the 275 loop...

at 12:39 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we build it, will they come?

at 12:40 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea needs to be scrapped. I can't imagine a bigger waste of the taxpayers dollars.

As a Cincy region resident living in the suburbs I personally would not use the streetcars as I have no need/benefit.

I can understand the previous poster's concern about not having public transportation from East to West, but that seems like that could be resoved with discussion with SORTA.

The logical questions to ask are:
- How much of the Cincy area population will truly benefit from streetcars?
- While the project is estimated to cost $80 million, what is the estimated revenue that will be brought in from Streetcars?

In my opinion City, County & State gov't officals seriously need to revisit the light rail system for thr region. You want to pump $$ into the region and get cars off the already crowded highways... there you have it.

at 12:40 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

The street car project is a bloated #30MM wishlist like the waisted millions on moving fountain square 20 feet.

at 12:48 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Jim said...

whoa, it does NOT take over half an hour to walk from Findlay Market to Fountain Square...it's like 7 blocks. 15 minutes. Streetcars?? Maybe lets put some more stuff downtown worth doing, then maybe add some lame street cars. I mean, what year is it anyway? Streetcars...who came up with this? How about something to bring in people who don't already live downtown, instead of some completely non-cutting-edge-technology street cars to carry people from point A to point A-and-a-half. No wonder everybody's so fat - WALK!

at 12:55 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Smarty said...

We would do more for the city if we took 2% of that money and convinced people to build a casino on the banks. Then we would need a street car, more hotels and more restaurants. The only thing downtown has is Arnoff, Saks, Tiffany and CRIME. Lets stop the money and Cincinnati people from going to Indianna and Kentucky.

at 12:57 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cranley oppossed light rail and now opposses street cars. He is not an environmentalist and cares little about creating transportation alternatives. He doesn't understand the correlation between street cars and economic development. He is basically Tom Luken's bitch. Nice legacy John!

at 12:58 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Waste of money! Reconsider the light rail. The questions would be fine if it were for that.

at 1:02 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to see streetcars in Cincinnati, for that matter I'd love to see light rail in Cincinnati too. However, Cincinnati does not have the population density of a NY or Chicago and the associated high cost to drive and park a car.

We are also surrounded by vast expanses of relatively cheap, easily developed land for residential and retail use.

It's good to ask the questions, silly or not, now before we are paying for a permanent government supported fiasco just to be able to say we have mass transit.

at 1:06 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous steve said...

7 blocks jim? i dont think so. I work in a building adjacent to fountain square and live on eighth st. and it takes almost 10 minutes to walk it. eigth st isnt even half way to findaly market. The point is no one is going to walk 20-30 minutes for groceries and then carry them back another 20-30 minutes especially during weather like we have in the winter.

at 1:07 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cincinnati had the chance to actually to be one of the first in the country to attempt to redevelop a riverfront, outcome postponed.
Cincinnati/Hamilton County could have developed a rail transit system to ease traffic congestion and promote development and rebirth of the city, outcome voted down.
Cincinnati can now build a streetcar system in downtown and OTR to promote investment and interest in that area, outcome City Council is not thinking about the future, only the present day.

at 1:12 PM, January 31, 2008 Blogger Sean F. said...

Ummm...7 blocks? I may not be the best at math, but I know that Fountain Square is on 5th st. 7 blocks puts you at 12th St, which is the Gateway Quarter. It takes another 4 blocks to get to Liberty and then a few more to get to Elder. Still that only puts you at Elder and Vine, a block east of Findlay Market.

Let's add to that fact that the streetcar goes to the Reds Stadium, not Fountain Square, that's another few blocks.

I only hope Cranley puts such diligence into every $30 million the city spends, every road for a new subdivision that gets built, every subsidy we give Saks, but somehow I doubt it. That's not how efficient government works.

at 1:13 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some thoughts:

1. If you are for light rail (which I also am), remember that the VOTERS in this region voted it down a few years back. So if we want that it needs to be a citizen led effort.

2. Does Cranley oppose a streetcar? I could see that. Chris Bortz is a leader in this field, and I think somewhere back Bortz must have done something to bruise the Cran Man's ego. That is probably what this comes down to.

at 1:13 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous mkwhite said...

If the idea is to bring more people to downtown, why not plan a light rail project. Let's see, reduce auto traffic + increase downtown visitors + save energy = too much logic. Why do I live outside of my beloved hometown? Poor government!

at 1:13 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cranley is right. the streetcar needs to serve more of a purpose. it will be completely worth it to extend the route to clifton in the first phase. otr is no where close to strong enough to be a streetcar anchor, however it will continue to grow and thrive if the uptown and downtown crowds pass by it on the streetcar line. This thing needs to be done right or else it will lose momentum and be added to the list of failures. It has amazing potential but the questions must be asked.

at 1:14 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Concerned Roselawn Resident said...

This is a project being championed by Chris Bortz strictly to increase the value of the investments his family's firm, Towne Properties, has made in downtown and Mt Adams.

Most of the financing for his proposal uses TIF's. The same TIFs are already being used to fund multiple other "improvements" in the downtown/OTR area. Only so much property value can realistically be expected to be achieved and this is far beyond that.

Mr Bortz claims that development would occur on multiple vacant parcels of land along the proposed route. If the idea is such a benefit to them, property owners along the route should be expected to provide financing far greated than Mr. Bortz's most recent proposal.

This is yet another example of some members of council using all of the city's resources to improve Downtown/OTR/WestEnd at the expense of all other communities/neighborhoods in the city. Council isn't solving the problems that are prevalent in these neighborhoods, they are just forcing them to other neighborhoods. This type of continued course of action is what is pushing city residents out to Brown and Warren counties and result in a zero sum gain to the city's population and tax base.

at 1:15 PM, January 31, 2008 Blogger Keith said...

I think these harsh generalizations and conclusions are mostly misleading and ignorant. Studies show that citizens within our federal republic as well as our region want more efficient modes of transportation. We understand that part of living in a post-industrial/climate-changing world is effective transportation. Modern streetcars ARE efficient, and are not obscelete. They are also extremely cost effective. For more information on street cars see: http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/pages/-17762-/ . What we hope for is a system based on: 1. long distance light rail 2. medium distance street car and 3. shorter distance bus routes. This would be the most efficient, and relevant for our time. No longer would the car be necessary for regional transportation. For information on light rail initiatives, see: http://www.pro-transit.com/

We must realize that questions must be asked, efficient monetary spending is essential, and with time mass transit is essential. We shouldn't leave it up to JUST Cincinnati and Hamilton County-- we should all be part of this as a region-- and ALL of us should pay for our regional parts.

at 1:17 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Pete Djibouti said...

I think nine pages of questions is a completely reasonable response to asking the taxpayers to shell out over $100 million of OUR $$$ for phase ONE of a project. Then phase TWO, of god knows how many steps, will cost as additional $80 million of OUR $$$.

Additionally, the claimed link between streetcars and economic development is questionable, at best. Portland claimed every last development in their Pearl District as coming from the streetcar. I highly doubt their urban core was truly that moribund. That would be like claiming the several hundred million dollar development of the Banks was because of the streetcar, when in point of fact the two projects are uncorrelated. Its the classic post hoc, propter hoc fallacy. One event happens after another, therefore the first must have caused the second. Not true. Research Portland's Pearl District and find the truth in my words. The Pearl District, like the Banks, was primed for development with or without the streetcar. It also required massive additional subsidies, which we can't afford if we build the streetcar.

But by all means, feel free to maintain your romantic delusions that if we build it they will come.

at 1:19 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have several questions that I would like answered:
1. What is the difference between a streetcar and a bus?
2. How many really nice buses would $80 million in political money (probably closer to $120 million in cost overrun money) buy?
3. Would horse drawn carriages be more cutting edge and just as quick?

at 1:34 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Bryon Martin said...

To be a viable city and region, you need to have a strong, self-sustaining economic core. A streetcar system would spawn an estimated $1.4 BILLION in economic development/re-development in Downtown and OTR. If we (the City of Cincinnati) fund this portion of our Public Transportation (approx $100 million that can greatly be offset by TIF), that opens the door for an additional $400 million that we could receive from the Federal Gov't (80/20 funding).
If this city makes the mistake of not investing in the streetcar, my fear is that so many of the dedicated individuals that have been putting forth amazing amounts of time, money and effort to revitalize this great city, will be defeated by the status quo, conservative views that have plagued Cincinnati for too long.
And by the way...it’s 14 blocks from Fountain Square to Findlay Market...its an architecturally stunning walk...do it sometime.

at 1:39 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think the streetcar is a necessarily bad idea, in fact I'm quite excited about the prospect and I think it could do a lot of downtown/otr. However, I think Councilman Cranley's question are entirely reasonable and I'm glad he is asking them. This is what good governance is. You don't throw taxpayer money into things without asking all the relevant questions (see: Iraq).

If the streetcar plan has a chance of succeeding, and I think it does, it will only work after all questions have been asked and answered and the plan has been thoroughly checked out.

at 1:40 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Kelly Bogata said...

Joe Deters is right, this streetcar is a massive waste of tax money. It will just be a way to showcase the rampant crime problem in OTR. Why don't we give the money to Chief Streicher to crack down the criminal elements?

at 1:41 PM, January 31, 2008 Blogger Hey Barry Larkin! said...

For all you suburbanites that are bashing the project, just drop it. This is an inner-city project meant to benefit inner city residents. You already voted down the light rail system, so be happy.

Hopefully the streetcars would be only the first piece in a larger plan to expand public transportation within the entire beltway, but you have to start somewhere. That's why the uptown leg wasn't considered in the initial phase.

Every city that has added a modern streetcar system has benefitted greatly with increased homeownership and commercial ventures along the entire route.

And it takes at least 30 minutes to walk from the Square to Findlay Market, it's more than 7 blocks. Learn your local geography.

Many of these questions are appropriate, and would be asked eventually, so lets get it out of the way and begin the construction, PLEASE. Our city needs this.

at 1:44 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fountain square to Findlay Market is well more than 7 blocks.........maybe you should check a mao out before talking....about 1.3 miles according to this map...... http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Cincinnati,+OH,+United+States+of+America&sa=X&oi=map&ct=title

Which, with waiting to cross streets would meet about a 30 minute + walk at a causual pace!!

at 1:46 PM, January 31, 2008 Blogger Quim said...

The state of Ohio prohibits casino gambling.
try again

Anonymous Suburbanite 12:40PM
Suburbanites soundly defeated a light rail proposal. You & your neighbors will not use it.
In regards to your question, "While the project is estimated to cost $80 million, what is the estimated revenue that will be brought in from Streetcars? "
Estimates are 1.8 to 2.8 billion dollars of investment/development.

My question:
Why does John Cranley, a lifelong resident and an elected, paid official of the city not know how long it takes to make the walk from Fountain Sq. to Findlay Market ?
Chabot made the walk.

at 1:53 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not give $3million to get the condo project at 5th and Race up and going to get residents downtown? This has only been a 10 year project. Then give them a nice way to move around.

at 2:05 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who wants to get from Findlay Market to Fountain Square?? And what happens at night when the thing breaks down in OTR? Just a way to bring more non-working loiterer's to the working district downtown.

at 2:11 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Corey said...

o....because Chris Bortz owns property, the property value can never go up in Cincinnati? What a silly thing to say. The person who wrote that seems to agree that the street cars would increace property value, that means the property value will go up, in their opinion.
If property value goes up, that mean the property is worth more, and that's the point.
So it stands to reason that the person who said this thinks it really is a good idea, they just hate Chris Bortz? I'm confused...
Also, I've lived Downtown/OTR for the last five years, never had a problem with the crime, some of you people still must have 10 year old news stories floating in your head, it's not as bad as you think, maybe you're just afraid of black people?

at 2:15 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't be the only one who see the similiarities between the streetcar proposal and the Skywalk.

The Skywalk only lasted 20 years, and other than a short period of interest when it first opened, it was essentially a failure.

I have a feeling that in 20 years, if this proposal goes through, we'll be tearing up streetcar tracks just like we tore down the Skywalk.

Streetcars are another 'me too' project from a city council lacking any original ideas.

at 2:23 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous ld said...

If we honestly want a streetcar in this city, it makes a hell of a lot more sense to begin in Uptown and then expand it into Downtown.

First, Uptown has a virtually captive audience in UC students. A streetcar would link the Ludlow area, short Vine, Calhoun St, the zoo, and the east and west campuses of UC together into a integrated walkable community. Then once ridership is established among the student body expand it to downtown, where those students will be young professionals. We can then cultivate the nightlife, arts, etc.

If we start this project downtown it is doomed to fail. Frankly, there are not many interesting things to do downtown, and those that do exist already exist within walking distance of each other (unless you're fat and lazy). The sole (possible) exception being Findlay Market. Additionally, I doubt many downtown workers will ride immediately due to racial tension in this city. What happens once the first person gets robbed/stabbed/shot on a streetcar or at a streetcar stop? Which WILL happen at some point.

at 2:25 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Corey said...

People who want more "stuff" to do downtown need to realize, this is a community, not a shopping center.
People in the 'burbs shouldn't get a voice in this, they're the reason the stadiums are a mess, if we put the ball field in Broadway Commons, the city would be years ahead of where we are.
If you want to live in the 'burbs, fine, but leave the forward thinking people downtown alone. I'm sure theirs a chain restaurant you can hang out at.
Also, the vendors on Court Street are not Findlay Market...

at 2:27 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's good to ask these types of questions as long as Cranley understands there might not always be an obvious answer to all of them. With any development public or private there is risk involved but hopefully the questions allow everyone involved to better assess the situation and make a better decision. Lets just hope these can be answered sooner rather than later.

at 2:31 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

The streetcar is a powerful catalyst for economic development. Although the improved transportation provided by the streetcar will improve the character and feel of the city, the greatest benefits come from the streetcar’s ability to focus and spur investment all along the route.

In other cities, building a streetcar line has been an effective way to increase investment and development in their urban cores.

Streetcars promote growth add economic development in a myriad of different ways. The make downtown housing more affordable, bring in more customers to support downtown retail, improve property values, create a more vibrant city, and increase public safety by keeping more eyes on the street which improves the overall business climate.

at 2:33 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous billo said...

How many posters here realize that over 100 years ago, residents of both Milford and Glendale could ride light rail (then called interurbans) and be downtown in about 25 minutes? Then cometh Detroit, Big Oil and Big Rubber to buy up these rail services and foist buses on us. Same thing happened all over the USA...Los Angeles once had a decent light rail system.
With petroleum-based energy not ever returning to the prices of even five years ago, urban sprawl, the demon in this scenario, will "retract" and people WILL be forced by economic circumstances to return to "the city." One hopes that a more European model will result. Maybe a half century away?

at 2:33 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous oldmancash said...

Lets just keep moving north, south, etc. away from the city and build more "mini cities". Then we can all jump in our cars and wait in traffic for hours just to get to work. We don't need transit we need more roads, more lanes, more cars and bigger homes. I for one enjoy watching all of the needless urban-sprawl. We don't need a transit system. We are going to have to pay for two more stadiums in about 10 years anyway. Cincinnati likes to avoid problems not solve them.

at 2:41 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

The streetcar is expected to bring 1.4b in development to the downtown urban core. The Portland streetcar also brought 10,000 residents to the city worse neighborhod and they contribute that directly to the streetcar. This would enhance the develpment of 100's of projects instead of individual projects. It must be a streetcar with tracks in the road. With bus routes they can move daily it must be permanent. If Cranley can come up with a better plan than lets here it! As far as I know there is none. Maybe Cranley is afraid of using money he wants for his project in Price Hill. Seems like a confilct of interest if you ask me.

at 2:47 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Corey said...

I feel like I'm posting a lot, but I got passion!
I do agree with Id that it would work well around UC, but it would be crazy not to put it downtown.

I've met out of state UC students that live in the dorms, but have never been downtown because they don't have cars.

As I said earlier, downtown in a neighborhood, not a mall. If you can't find "many interesting things to do" downtown maybe that's on YOU! I find tons of stuff to do, more stuff than I have time for. Maybe you're just a boring person that needs to find some new interest?

Racial tension? I'm tired of people talking about racial tension downtown. I walk around alone after dark, all the time, I've never had a problem. Again, if you sense racial tension, maybe it's you, the city can't fix your personal race issues.

What does the Sky Walk have to do with anything? I'm not sure ONLY 20 years makes something a failure, and what do the two have to do with each other? Are you suggesting that because one city plan didn't go the way YOU wanted it to, that ALL city plans will fail? If you really feel that, you should move to Dayton. Wait, they got trolleys...

at 2:47 PM, January 31, 2008 Blogger Radarman said...

It's pretty clear from Cranley's questions that he is dead set against the project.
But we knew that. John Cranley's mentor Tom Luken, a man of the suburban fifties, is wedded to automobiles and highways. What's confusing is how the better educated Cranley buys into the bigger streets, more expressways Luken philosophy. Presumably John Cranley understands the importance of reinvestment in the city, the desirability of high density development, the waste engendered by garages, and the need to knit OTR into the city center. He's not stupid. Right?

at 2:49 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Lauri B. said...

I have to thank Mr. Cranley for being a responsible public leader in asking these questions. What if the City spends $100m (basically all its money) on this streetcar, the developers don't come, it doesn't get the riders it is supposed to- what are we left with? An empty streetcar,the same blighted buildings we have today, and an empty city treasury.

at 2:51 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Bryon Martin said...

I have no problem with Cranley, the Finance Committee (or anyone else on council for that matter, asking questions. I am confident that all of the answers will lead any rational person to see that the Streetcar is a "no-brainer". It is frustrating though, that we are still at the question stage, nearly 9 months after the project gained so much momentum in Council Chambers. I question what is taking so long, but I digress...
As far as Uptown vs. Downtown streetcar lines. They both need to happen. However, it makes more sense both strategically and monetarily to start with the Downtown loop. First, you will have a "base point" with the Downtown loop (as is should be, Downtown i.e. the center of the region) for the other lines (Uptown, East Side, West Side N. KY) to jut off of. Second, if the city finances the Downtown loop (much less expensive than the Uptown loop), then that will count as our 20% of the 20/80 funding that the federal government requires to take part in this type of project (they would ante up the other 80%). Hopefully the Uptown loop planning and initial construction can begin (with the bill being paid by the Feds) even before, or at least soon after, the completion of the Downtown loop. It is not an either/or, it is a first/then scenario. The Downtown/OTR loop is a much better starting point.

at 2:57 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think starting Phase 1 downtown is a bad idea. There will be no riders on a north-south loop from the Banks to OTR. Without riders the streetcar will never be a success.

Phase 1 needs to be uptown. Connect calhoun/mcmillan to ludlow and connect the two UC campuses. This will increase streetcar revenue and phase 2 can take the UC students to OTR and the banks.

at 3:00 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Maybe Cranley is afraid of using money he wants for his project in Price Hill. Seems like a confilct of interest if you ask me."

Problem is that the vast majority of the money is coming from the downtown TIFs. That money can ONLY be spent downtown. But guess what does rely on that TIF money? Just about every other development project downtown. So guess what? The city can't help gap-finance anymore projects downtown without dipping into the general fund. Know what that means? The rest of the city (i.e. 95% of likely voters) is going to whinge that those dollars aren't being spent in their neighborhood. Know what that means? Well since it is not politically and economically feasible to assist developers AND build a streetcar, downtown doesn't get developed. So the streetcar can't possibly be about economic development, because there is no way it will spur it.

at 3:00 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous jenny said...

If we're doing the streetcar to "revitalize" downtown, then why don't we just revitalize it instead of putting the money toward a streetcar, hoping the developers come? Let's put in the streetcar when there's somewhere to go on it. How many people are honestly going to ride the streetcar once the novelty wears off? There's no place to to go on this route! For $100m, the streetcar has to be more than an amusement ride. I say bring the streetcar to the Uptown, where it has a decent chance at success.

at 3:01 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are we through thinking like a small city? Build some infrastructure and regain some civic pride. It's embarassing that we don't have any sort of mass transit. And no, buses don't count.

It's easy: if you want young people to stay in Cincy, build the streetcar. Send a signal that Cincinnati is a great place for young people to live.

If we want young people to contribute to the mass exodus, then don't build the streetcar. It doesn't get much simpler than that.

at 3:04 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been a real estate agent for 13 years and born and raised Cincinnatian. A lot of Cincinnatians dont have any self-esteem about there own city.

Right now Downtown and OTR are having unprecedented development growth with retail and new residents buying condo's and moving into high rent apartments. Cincinnati is moving forward with the banks project and hopefully the street car.

If you want to be conservative and negative about what Cincinnati has to offer and what Cincinnati is starting to become with Economic growth in the urban core then move somewhere else.

at 3:09 PM, January 31, 2008 Blogger 5chw4r7z said...

Lets axe the 3 billion dollar bridge that I'll never use over the Ohio, build the streetcar that I will and the governement will have 2.9 billion in change. Thats basicly what it comes down to the people who will use it are for it, those who won't against. And I'm sick of the "build it and they will come" arguement, screw that, lets build it for the people already here, whats wrong with us?

at 3:16 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Radarman is onto something that has not been fleshed out in these threads. The "inside baseball" political people will tell you that Cranley is 100% against mass transit of any kind, though he admittedly is good at disguising it. Look at this record RE: SORTA, etc. Not sure why, though the Tom Luken connection is correct. So, really, the issue isn't the questions he raises (and the answers to them). Rather, this is a stalling tactic in a larger scheme by Cranley to derail (pun intended) the streetcar idea. Mark my words: it doesn't matter how the questions are answered. Cranley will just pull more tactics from his bag. Nice legacy, indeed.

at 3:30 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's take it a step at a time...Banks first, OTR revitalization second, then, maybe, a streetcar.

at 3:30 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does the city of cincinnati keep re-electing Cranley to city council or any other elective position? He just wants cincinnati to keep living in the past and not move forward.

at 3:35 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cranley's first question is the most important.

Put another way: How do you pay for it?

at 3:37 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has to be the most ignorant scheme yet. We taxpayers will foot the bill when this "We wannabe like Portland" idea fails. People may ride the streetcar at first due to its newness but ridership will, repeat WILL dwindle in the long run. There have been busses running throughout over the rhine for how many years? A streetcar makes that much difference? WOW! Where will the people move to when they are displaced by all of this so called progress. Surely the wannabees would not want to taint the over the rhine experience with views of the people who call over the rhine home. Wake up taxpayers! Get informed! Think! Act! Stop being victims!

at 3:43 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very valid questions. He may be opposed to it, but by posing the questions he makes everyone think about the TRUE impact to the city. Get the answers to the questions and let everyone see it, you'll see the folly in the trolley.

Folks, the key to the entire article is this... Do people use Metro buses to get around downtown? All you're doing is creating a special 'bus', slapping rails on the street, and permenantly defining its route. If you think you're going to create this great 'bus' so people can ride it, you've got another thing coming! Please, City of Cincinnati, take any money for this project and have SORTA buy more buses and expand existing routes. Lower the fares for downtown routes if you must. Slap a skirt on the bus and make it look trolley-esque. Please, anything but laying track... If new bus routes don't work, then they'll go away. SORTA modifies their routes all the time based on ridership, nothing new there.

In today's age of 'have it now', most of us are too lazy to walk a few blocks after getting off a bus downtown. Its too convenient to hop in a car and go where you want without having to wait for a scheduled stop. And some people in this city still have a very negative connotation associated to riding a bus, like its full of vagrants and bums.

You can't change the thoughts of folks by building infrastructure. You need to build ridership of existing routes by promoting it. Get some good commercials out there. The only time people hear about the Metro is when rates go up.

at 3:43 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good questions. Exactly the kind of questions that need to be answered before spending tends of millions of dollars of taxpayer money. Question the assumptions.....ask about the worst cases...compare alternatives....very good stuff. Wish we had more folks asking these kinds of questions.
In my company? If I went before senior management asking for tens of millions of dollars? I had better be able to answer these kinds of questions, or else I had better be polishing my resume for the next gig. Glad to see somebody brinng some private-sector rigor into the pork-barrel ctiy government.

at 3:44 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stupid question for a stupid project.

Would Al Gore approve of the projects carbon foot print?

What if it snows? Will they run

Are the cars heated and air conditioned?

Will there be advertising on the street cars? (Rice A Roni ?)

Will kids be street car surfing causing a potential danger?

What happens if thieves take the track and sell it for scrap?

Will there be cameras mounted in the street cars?

at 3:45 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read some comments regarding light rail. Has anyone ever noticed the environment around light rail systems? It's like an industrial wasteland! That's what I want to see running through Cincinnati's neighborhoods. Have you ever noticed how trashy Chicago's city neighborhoods are. If you need it so badly go live there.

at 3:50 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Streetcars wouldn't even be an issue today if all the NIMBYs and other people who are afraid of change and progress hadn't voted down light rail. So instead we're stuck with overcrowded roads and an inadequate mass transit system that sits in the same traffic with everyone else.

Of course, nothing ever gets done in this city because everyone is fixated on how much things cost rather than how much benefit they will bring to the region. This being the case, streetcars will never happen because some politician or local busybody with nothing else to do will kill the project before it even gets started.

In short, this discussion is moot.

at 4:00 PM, January 31, 2008 Blogger CityKin said...

I can't figure out Cranley's opposition either. I read all nine pages of questions and I could answer most of them off the top of my head. Maybe that is because I read the proposal and asked questions at the public presentation.

Especially stupid were the questions about the need to remove OTR historic districts? Where did he come up with that?

Cranley was quoted in the paper as saying he would support a streetcar if it would connect to Clifton. Well, no kidding, that would be great John, but we'll never get there with councilmembers like you stonewalling from the start.

at 4:05 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just move the Freedom Center over to the museum center where it belongs and use the funds saved for the streetcar.

at 4:10 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey John how's the incline district thing going HaHaHahaHa. And you have the nerve to ask questions at all.

at 4:26 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous James said...

Anon 3:45:

This is not light rail. This is not commuter rail or subway. This is nothing like the "El" in Chicago. To you and everyone else reading this: DON'T COMPLAIN ABOUT IT UNTIL YOU'RE INFORMED!!!
Go to www.cincystreetcar.com and find out what you don't know.

at 4:55 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Went to cincystreetcar.com and did not see anything about security.

Will there be plain clothed streetcar Marshals protecting the riders from downtown villains?

Should you wear a flak jacket while riding on the streetcar?

at 5:04 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous westside voter said...

John Cranley is without a doubt trying to slow this project down. He has consistently shown his opposition to every kind of transit initiative during his tenure.

I for one, am tired of the politics of old in Cincinnati. We are starting to see some momentum here and now is the absolute wrong time to try to stall projects. I have been a long-time supporter of Cranley, in the past, but have officially moved on.

It's time for the new leadership to shine through and get people, like Cranley, out of the way...so that the rest of us can move forward.

at 5:06 PM, January 31, 2008 Blogger Quim said...

anonymous 1:19 PM, January 31 said...
"What is the difference between a streetcar and a bus?"
I asked this question a lot & if you ride the bus, you reaalize what a pain it is to get on & off the bus with a granny grocery basket or a baby carriage or using a wheelchair.
The streetcar designs address this & I have found no buses that do.
If a bus design does - I am all for it.
Also, the shorter dedicated route makes a lot of sense because the potential fo getting off schedule increases the longer the route.

anonymous 2:05 PM, January 31, said...
"Who wants to get from Findlay Market to Fountain Square??"
I have no idea. I find Fountain Square pretty dull
"And what happens at night when the thing breaks down in OTR?"
That's actually one of Cranley's better questions & I can't believe it has not been addressed.
"Just a way to bring more non-working loiterer's to the working district downtown."
That is a bizarre statement. Cranley seems afraid that it will lure more downtowners away from downtown businesses. He has no qualms about downtown luring OTR workers away. maybe that will be in the next 9 pages of stonewalling, er, questions.
Anyway, didn't you just say that the reason is to loiter ?

If it is a great idea for UC, let UC build it.

corey said...
"I've met out of state UC students that live in the dorms, but have never been downtown because they don't have cars."
corey, UC students get free bus service. What more do they want ? They are just making excuses.

jenny said...
"There's no place to to go on this route!"
Jenny, even Cranley got this right, it is a circulator not a communter tool.

Cranley's questions about Operations and funding are pretty good & I am surprised they have not been addressed.
His questions about ridership are fairly inane.
I think his last set of questions tell the story, tho - it's not his baby.

at 5:21 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Transportation expert said...

Any transportation innovation that does not do two things is a waste of time and money
1) Connect the Airport to downtown.
2) Connect all major venues. If people are going to use it, it needs to take people where the want to go- not try to make people go where you WANT them to go.

at 6:08 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't let Cranley de-rail this crucial project. Cranley has a right to ask relevant questions, just not stupid ones that he could answer himself with a little effort. Instead he chooses to focus on running for higher office and pursuing his life-long dream of being the Frisch's Big Boy body double. You have to admit the uncanny resemblance.

I applaud Chris Bortz for taking a stand on this issue and really pushing it along. While questions need to be answered, the project needs to move forward. I wonder if Cranley is pushing these questions to get his name in the newspaper. Could we be hearing an announcement soon that he is running for another office? I imagine so.

at 6:35 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since it is Bortz's baby, why not have Towne Properties write the check instead of the taxpayers? After all, they and their friends in the development community will be the prime beneficiaries.

at 6:58 PM, January 31, 2008 Blogger UncleRando said...

It almost seems crazy to think that 1 person can have this much power on an issue like this. The Cincinnati Streetcar looks to have majority support on both the Finance Committee, full City Council, the Mayor, and the City Manager. But because 1 guy has something against it - it is at risk of being held up and slowing this city's fantastic progress.

It's time for this city to shed the politicians, of the past, who feel that Cincinnati isn't good enough or that it can't be done in Cincinnati. It can and it will be done...just get out of the way.

at 7:05 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

The streetcar is a cute toy that I would like to ride but in reality this venture will:
(1) be another tax
(2) benefit 3CDC (check who these people are and you will see the name Bortz)
(3) ride people to the banks (which will not be ready for 20 years)
And why is there a lack of streetcar systems in the midwest and much of the USA? Why do cities not want or need them?
The Portland system, in which everyone wants to use as a model, includes the very large Portland University.

at 7:15 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

OTR has been the dumping ground for the entire region for many years. With 700 vacant buildings and 100 social agencies in a small area, OTR was our creation. Now it is time to pay the piper or never get our city back. The streetcar will get us our city back. Does someone have a better solution? I've been in OTR for several years this is the only one that makes sense!

at 7:53 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are over 70 pages on this topic at urbanohio. Our fine city needs to progress. Why do we always get stuck in the past?

at 7:58 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous James said...

Anon 6:35 said: "Since it is Bortz's baby, why not have Towne Properties write the check instead of the taxpayers? After all, they and their friends in the development community will be the prime beneficiaries."

Yes, that's the idea... developers will benefit because they will BE DEVELOPING! Explain to me why that's a bad thing. God forbid we encourage Downtown development!

at 8:20 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Raskir said...

This is just absurd. John Cranley is an elected official. He should be acting on behalf of the citizens of Cincinnati. That list of questions is just red-tape. He is trying to push it back, and push it back so that it wont make it into the budget for 2008 and therefore push everything back a year. Construction on the streetcar could be finished by 2010, but not at the pace that he has set. I thought that we established a government for checks and balances so that one person wouldn’t have so much power, so how is it that John Cranley is the end all be all of the Streetcar financing?

at 9:00 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey wait a minute. I want to know more about this Price Hill connection with Mr Cranley. Someone posted that he has an investment there. Is he torpedoing the idea to redirect investment toward his property?

Would you reporter types dig into this, please? We've always known that Cranley is only interested in power and not the long term good for our city, but this is outrageous.

at 9:45 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cranley has misrepresented his position on the streetcar from the beginning. In the early stages, when it was just a pipe dream, he was the biggest proponent (just ask Mike Moose and Dan Deering). Now when there is an opportunity to make it a reality, he throws up one roadblock after another. Make that 9 pages of roadblocks. Why can't he at least be honest about his position?

at 9:51 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Cranley has a lot of questions. Big deal. Someone should on this.

The crazy reactionary response to a list of questions comes off rather suspect.

Just answer the questions that can be answered so we can know what we are getting into. Instead of 80 comments attacking the questions (or the author) why not just answer them?

at 9:57 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Money that would be used for streetcars using TIF can only be used for that area for development. Price Hill vs. OTR is a false argument.

TIF districts can only have competition within their designated area. So, it's OTR project vs. OTR project. Plain and simple.

In other words, TIF money for streetcars means no TIF money for other OTR projects. Plain and simple.

Maybe that makes the most sense.

at 10:03 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cranley is a partner with a company out of Chicago who want to do a medical complex/office retail space. The development is called city lights in the Incline District that Cranley help found. Cranley lives very close to the development. He doesn't see a conflict, he will excuse himself when ever there is a vote about the project, but when there is a project like this one that may take potential money away form his project. He can raise all the stink he wants! Why not excuse himself from this vote too? He is not for the city. He is for his developemnt company and Price Hill. I would have more respect for him if he just came out and said it. What experience does John Cranley have as a developer? Why else would they hire him? His only job is to get money from the city! Wake up People!

at 10:11 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Chris.Wiedeman said...

Sure we could have a rail system that runs from Cincy to UC, and all points beyond but no one will pay for that until they see the success of a FIRST PHASE.

Have any of you in opposition ever walked through OTR? I doubt it. In any other city an area like OTR would be a Treasure! We have so many beautiful buildings and most of them are rotting. Yuppies, developers, colleges students and anyone who wants to live a vibrant urban lifestyle will be taking advantage of the Streetcar. All of them tax payers.

We want thoughtful development in the urban core, where all utilities are already in place, where people work, where people play, where the arts lively, where small business's thrive. Let's leave the corn field developments for other towns and spend our limited funds supporting thoughtful redevelopment that includes the people who currently live in OTR and all those who WILL want to live there.

Cranely is against public transport in any form. Especially if it does not directly benefit him or his.

Just think how much more this will cost when we finally get off our oil binge and everyone is clambering for for trains and rail. And think how much further behind we will be than the cities that take advantage of this sort of development today. Redirect even 5% of what we pay for the auto subsidy we call roads and we could have rail in every neighborhood of the city.

at 10:23 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Cranley:

If you really want to develop the downtown to increase the tax base streetcars are a great idea. In addition to the streetcars why don't you take the land deed for the lot in between Macy's and the Milleneum Hotel away from Eagle Realty (since they've made a commitment to never starting nor completing a value added new construction project in company history). Then you can negotiate with a grocer (i.e. Fresh Market or Whole Foods) to move into that location. Put in the streetcar simultaneously with the grocer and you just supplied a grocery store targeted towards the resident demographic that you are attempting to draw to the downtown area and a reasonable transportation medium for the residents to use. Once the resident base meets critical mass the city can use it's wealth of small store fronts to create a botique style shopping destination for all in the burbs. This will make the downtown a great living, shopping, dining, and playing destination. Finally, your tax base will be large enough to supply the prison you all want to build which will help take the degenerates out of Price Hill. This will in turn increase the value of your investment there. You can sell it and retire as far away from this city as possible.

at 10:40 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 1950 Cincinnati had a population of 502,000 and a large streetcar system. The streetcar were retired in favor of buses in 1951. For the next half century Cincinnati lost population. By 2000, the City had only 331,000 people left. We need to build the streetcar to spur investment in the urban core and increase Cincinnati's population. The Risk Analysis conducted by HDR shows a 90% chance the benefit to cost ratio of the streetcar will be 1.6 to 1. There is a roughly 96% chance the ratio will be one to one. The median expected benefit to cost ratio is 2.7 to 1.

If someone offered you a bet where you had a 4% chance of losing your money, 10% chance of breaking even, a 50% percent chance of doubling your money, and a 36% chance of more than doubling your money, would you take it?

With those odds, I would bet everything I own.

at 10:41 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

To James at 4:26pm - I went to cincystreetcar.com and found nothing of any value. Was that website created by the contractor wanting to make millions from this project (Towne Properties owned by the Bortz family)? It's just words. I don't believe marketing tactics. I'm smarter than that. This is a loser project. I need to get elected so I can push my family business adjenda at taxpayers expense. Taxpayers awake! Stop being fooled by big business! Refuse to be victims!

at 11:19 PM, January 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...


at 12:10 AM, February 01, 2008 Anonymous $101 million ways to waste money said...

Has Chrissy Bortz ever heard of this thing called a "bus"? It can go anywhere, move around traffic, doesn't require permanent rails, runs in an electric failure, and can have its route changed in a flash.

Just buy a new bus, dress it up like a street car, and save the other $101 million for something useful? If Towne Properties wants a street car so bad, let them pay for it.

at 8:24 AM, February 01, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, you got it wrong. Bortz is working hard for this so his company will continue to reap millions. Check the books, they never do a deal without a government subsidy.

at 9:41 AM, February 01, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look all these lies!!!

at 9:43 AM, February 01, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would rather give tax dollars to developers to build in Over-the-Rhine, then give tax dollars into a streetcar system hoping that developers would build around it.

at 9:49 AM, February 01, 2008 Blogger Radarman said...

Speaking to the city residents (suburbanites have no say in this use of city money) may I remind you that the city has invested a great deal of money in the unique and very flexible Findlay Market. Findlay Market will be looped by the streetcar (if Cranley gets an honesty attack) and will be the WholeFoods/Kroger/Dean and DeLuca for the ever growing population of downtown residents. The streetcar is a circulator, not a commuter.

at 9:52 AM, February 01, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bortz is the best thing to happen ot City council in a while. A person who has real world experience and not a career politician. The idea behind the streetcar is the tracks don't move, that is exactly what developers want. A bus route can move daily you are making an argument for the other side and don't even know it. please get informed before making comments!

at 10:14 AM, February 01, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cranley hasn't asked enough questions on this nightmare of a stupid idea.

Why can't white "yps" learn to take the bus?

What are you "yps" afraid of?

at 11:13 AM, February 01, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I am a 25yo male and I ride the bus every single day. And it is because of that that I want more options. I have ridden modern streetcars in other cities and those comparing it to a bus obviously have not. There is simply no comparison - the ride is faster, smoother, quieter and makes for a generally pleasant urban experience.

Who wants to live next to a bus stop? Not many. Quite a few would want to live next to the streetcar.

What amazes me is that 3/4 of Cranley's questions have already been answered in last year's consultant study. Is no one angry that Cranley didn't pay attention before? These questions should have been asked then!

Also, Cranley not a career politician, ha! He graduated from law school in 1999 and has been in politics since 2000.

at 11:33 AM, February 01, 2008 Blogger Quim said...

$101 million ways to waste money,
Have you got an example of a bus that works like the proposed streetcar ?
I couldn't find one.

at 1:01 PM, February 01, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who makes money on building the street car?

Who would specifically get the 101 million dollars?

at 2:08 PM, February 01, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

The streetcar is an excellent idea for Cincinnati. The initial streetcar route serves more as a catalyst for future development than a people mover. It will allow Cincinnati to develop its urban core with higher density and less parking.

There must be a shift in our region's real estate development paradigm. It is senseless to keep expanding the city's boundries with sprawl when there are plenty of untapped opportunities in and around OTR.

The streetcar impacts many aspects of the community and a decision against the streetcar will only further lower Cincinnati's ability to attract talent and jobs.

at 4:41 PM, February 01, 2008 Anonymous Chris.Wiedeman said...

Ok, who here is against making money?

The people who are going to win will on the street car will be; current property owners, new owners who buy before the deal is sealed (that could be you naysayer), businesses along the route and up to three blocks away, current renters up to three blocks away, future renters, City, State and County coffers, developers who have the vision to see what OTR/Downtown CAN (and will) be, visitors to the city, people in the 'burbs who will have a new place to envy/visit, Big Corporation employees say Cincinnati Yuck too BassAckwards I'll find another job rather than move there, anyone who wants to open a small business in a high density area, people spending a nigh out on the town, Old folk who like the opera and don't drive so well, anybody who gets eats and drinks downtown (there are of lot of us).

People who are going to lose; drunks- fewer people willing to tolerate them, drug dealers more eyes on the street makes them and there customers go "away", criminals of all sorts- again more eyes and they beat feet, some lower income residents (but look at what some current organizations are doing with rent equity help in that regard), middle income people who don't see the opportunity and buy now (cause once it gets hot the higher incomes will snap it all up as they always do, look at 4th st.), whiners who hate to see others succeed when they don't have the guts or the vision to make something happen themselves.

I challenge all of the people who are against the street car to spend and evening downtown with me, I'll take you to the CBD and OTR and you'll have a good time - I guarantee it, if you don't enjoy yourself I'll pay for your dinner. Two at a time please.

at 4:45 PM, February 01, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

The streetcar project will provide economic development. It will be an ONGOING project. Why does everyone have to have IMMEDIATE results? If we don't do this now, in 10 yrs. we will look back and regret it.

Once again, the conservative, short-sighted citizens of Cincinnati are holding this project back.

at 6:12 PM, February 01, 2008 Anonymous Flying Dutchman said...

Look at the comments on this blog entry; it shows a growing passion for the future of our great city, which is wonderful.

Keep in mind, you can't just throw money around at empty buildings and store fronts and say "Poof, Develop". It doesn't work that way. You have to throw your money into the "drivers" of development. See: Fountain Square. No one argues about the decision to renovate Fountain Square anymore after the development it has spurred. Go downtown on a weeknight and just look at the people out and about the full restaurants and bars. Chalk that up to a strong "driver" of development.

The streetcars is one of these so called "drivers". It might be controversial at first but a few years after installation there won't be much argument when the store fronts are filled and the vacant buildings are turned into residential dwellings...

at 7:31 PM, February 01, 2008 Anonymous Let's Get Real said...

i have loads of fun downtown, but i don't need to wait around for a streetcar (to be built or running) to walk a few blocks from 7th street up to main street. sounds like an aweful a lot of money to risk without any clue on how it will be afforded.

at 8:14 PM, February 01, 2008 Blogger CDC said...

I am against the streetcar as currently planned, and I am downtown on many occasions. I also lived there for a year. $100+ million is a lot of money to spend on a couple hours of dining pleasure and fun that I can get without a streetcar, and NIMBY (not in my back-yard) has nothing to do with it.

The person that offered up the Cincinnati-gov.org website might consider looking elsewhere for further research other than a site that is skewed to sell a service to a mostly streetcar uneducated public. Comparing Cincinnati to Portland, which was where the basic information was drawn, is like apples to oranges. The dynamics are no where near the same. Central City population of Portland was 12,902 according to the US 2000 Census, Cincinnati’s was 3,189. Although we have grown in number since then, I think we would be still hard-pressed to have reached 12,000.

I am also still attempting to figure out why Cincinnati advertises such a great rate of downtown condo construction and sales, when the housing market across the country is stagnated. There are condo developers holding onto hundreds of units that are not selling which begs the question, what are the number of actual closings, i.e. people actually moving into all these units? Displacement of current population to make way for this new development also becomes a big concern, and is another story.

Rider-ship of Portland’s Streetcar was 10,853 during Fall 2007 (trimet.org), that’s an average of about 3600 per month (if they consider Sep – Nov as fall, which their graph conveniently leaves out), and with a center city population almost three times the size of Cincinnati. If my recall is correct, I am not sure where Cincinnati is going to come up with the estimated 4600 daily riders in a city with a downtown population a third the size of Portland.

A streetcar is a people transporter, that’s all, which makes sense if there are a mass of people coming into the city that need to be transported elsewhere – as with Portland’s MAX light-rail riders and near-neighborhoods. Those commuting to the city by car are not the typical streetcar riders, making parking a premium in Portland and rush-hour a nightmare - even light rail did not resolve that issue. One can walk from the Square in Portland to the Pearl District faster than they can ride the streetcar during morning and evening rush hour – about like walking from Fountain Square to Findlay Market, give or take a couple of blocks. Also, in Portland most riders do not go from the Square to neighborhoods further away for lunch. Cincinnati also has a great number of people who commute into the city for work, surface parking will not be going away unless it can be resolved in another way and Cincinnati has limited itself with its interstate belting.

A streetcar initiative is not an automatic success or fix for economic growth. A streetcar can be successful for infill economic development IF there is a stable economic base to begin with, IF the perception/real issues of community safety have been addressed, and IF the route slated for the streetcar is already publicly perceived as walk-able. If one has doubts about walking through certain sections of town at any given time, riding a streetcar is less personal than rising a bus, (no eye of the driver directly in front watching over you). Portland had many economic initiatives going before they ever laid the first track for a streetcar, which Cincinnati does not. Portland’s biggest initiative was opening their light rail system in 1986, which if my memory serves has contributed more to their local economy than its streetcar has, as has its greenbelt zoning. Portland’s streetcar runs at a significant yearly deficit, and they have recently asked for a fare raise to cover the ever escalating costs.

People in general will walk about 1500 feet, a little over three average blocks, before they seek another mode of transportation. With limited time for lunch, it is not realistic to think that enough people will all hop the streetcar and go to Findlay Market for lunch to help justify the cost with new restaurants right around the square. From the comments I have continuously read about the perks of having a streetcar, most come from people looking for a ride to grocery shop at Findlay that previously have driven there to do so. I wonder how many have actually ridden a streetcar with limited seating, laden with grocery bags and attempted to hold on to a handle while stopping and starting at every light and designated stop.

With immediate family in Portland, and specifically at Portland Metro, it is no secret to me that Portland’s streetcar generates a great deal of publicity that in the long run spotlights the city and their green initiatives across the country. Portland also has a comprehensive plan that will take them into 2040, Cincinnati has none. Every step from before the light-rail to the streetcar has been meticulously planned several years before they ever happened, leading one to wonder, evon those at Portland Metro, how anyone can separate out publicly touted economic growth attributed specifically to a streetcar, when other economic growth initiatives had taken place before it ever opened its initial route in 2001.

We’d get far more bang for $100+ million with other economic building initiatives. What about building a spectacular one of a kind gateway bridge to replace the Brent-Spence and looking at ways to seamlessly connect pedestrian traffic between the Kentucky waterfront and the Ohio waterfront? With the amount of hotel/conference business both generate, this makes absolute sense, especially IF the Banks is really off the ground and beginning its run.

$100+ million would also go a long way in resolving the safety/walk-ability issues in Cincinnati. Human Service programming could be better streamlined to address the current weaknesses in the services offered that cause bigger problems in homeless, alcohol and drug related crime.

In conclusion, it is a shame that the general public was not educated enough to pass the light-rail system initiative a few years ago. It was a great opportunity that was missed. Perhaps it was too grandiose a plan for the average suburban automobile commuter. From my perspective, issues of safety loomed large as parents cringed at the thought of their teens perhaps hopping the system to go downtown on a Friday/Saturday night. I am not sure the promoters did all their homework.

What ever happened to starting on a smaller scale and building as success becomes evident? We have an initial light-rail plan that was never completed, and my question is how far could $100+million go to connect Kentucky with Cincinnati and re-develop the initial subway to connect first suburbs with downtown, and then build from there? Then again, many of those first suburbs are struggling to revitalize just like downtown Cincinnati meaning additional worried of safety. I have to agree, in the short-run a shiny new streetcar might be interesting, unfortunately it’s what happens over the long run that counts in the end.

at 8:54 PM, February 01, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Councilman Cranley's questions are good ones and need to be answered. As far as I know Downtown needs more people to enjoy it's great activities and nightlife. Why not link it with lots of people looking for something to do (think large amounts of UC students in Uptown)? Seems to me to be exactly what the streetcar systems is meant to do.

at 11:48 PM, February 01, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

cdc, your heart is in the right place, but your financial info isn't realistic. A new Brent Spence bridge is $3 Billion. A single mile of subway is around $200 million.

to answer your question, how far could 100 million to connect kentucky with cincinnati? about 2640 feet of subway.

at 2:53 PM, February 02, 2008 Anonymous CDC said...

Anonymous - I did not state that a new bridge would only cost $100Million or that a subway would either. My point was Cincinnati could spend that amount toward something that would build a better economic base than a streetcar.

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